19th March

Alice Weekes is excited about the opportunity to raise the profile and standard of football in south-west Wales after being appointed Swansea City’s first head of women’s football.

Weekes joins the Swans from the Welsh Rugby Union, where she had served as partnerships manager, with her time with the organisation coinciding with the Wales Women team moving to professional status.

Prior to her role with the WRU, Weekes spent four years with the M&C Saatchi agency in London, and worked across a number of sports and events, including football, rugby and the Olympics.

The 34-year-old arrives in SA1 optimistic about the future as she takes up the new position, and has her sights set on increasing opportunities for young players within Swansea and the wider catchment area; as well as overseeing the growth of the commercial value and audience for the Swans’ semi-professional side.

“I’m really excited to be here, it’s obviously a brand new role for the club so it’s a privilege to come and take that up,” said Weekes.

“I’m a massive football fan, I have a history of playing when I was younger, so to take up this role, which is hopefully going to make a huge difference to women’s and girls’ football in Swansea and beyond, is super exciting for me and I can’t wait to get going.

“I’ve spoken to (chairman) Andy [Coleman] and (chief of staff and head of strategy) Ken [Gude] and also (sporting director) Paul [Watson] through the interview process, and the passion and genuine drive they have to make this work was a massive reason I decided to take the role.

“They’ve transformed the women’s side and moved to semi-professional status in the summer, and that points towards a genuine belief that this can work.

Alice Weekes Dressing Room

“It’s a huge opportunity, it’s brand new, created from scratch. I’m fully aware there has been a lot of voluntary work that’s gone on in the background of this team over the years to get it to this point.

“But having that dedicated time and space to focus on women’s football and girls’ football in Swansea, the opportunities are almost endless, and the challenge will be finding those priorities and identifying what we do first, because there is a lot we can do.”

During her time with the WRU, Weekes supported the commercial growth of the women’s game within rugby, and saw first hand the difference professional contracts made to the team.  

With Swansea City Women having been fully integrated into the club and become semi-professional last summer, Weekes sees parallels between her previous job and her new role, and is confident her expertise in the area will prove beneficial.

“When I joined the WRU there were no professional women’s players there at all, and by the time I left there was 32 full-time women’s rugby professionals which is obviously incredible,” added Weekes.

“With that we saw improved performances because players had the time to train and dedicate themselves to the game, and we saw more people coming to the games because they were playing better. We had record crowds for the Women’s Six Nations.

“That gave the players a bigger profile and brands wanted to get involved, so we found that some of our key partners were really excited about the women’s team and the commercial side of things.

Alice Weekes

“I think it turns into a cycle there, the profile of the women’s players is growing, more people are interested and want to support the girls, and hopefully that transforms then into on-field success.

“What I will take from that is knowing the potential a growing profile of women’s players can get you long term.

“Having brands interested in the players was a huge thing for them, it was new, and they were excited by it, but also nervous. I have experience of helping the players through that.

“I think that experience will translate massively into this role, and hopefully I can put processes in place to help the girls continue to step into the semi-professional environment.

“Obviously the switch to semi-professional came in over the summer so it’s still new and the players will all have their journey and stories that they’ve been on, and I think that is important to learn about and know when we think about what we want to do in the future.

“Once you set that initial standard things will only get better, I’m here for the girls to speak to me about what they need.”

Another key aspect of Weekes’ role will be helping to establish and grow a pathway for talented young players in the region, offering greater exposure to opportunities to play the game and progress to hopefully one day be part of Swansea’s senior set-up.

Having been an aspiring young player herself, Weekes understands the importance of building a structure that will serve the club, city and region well for the long term as the game continues to grow.

“The pathway is going to be huge and that will be one of my longer-term objectives that I’ve spoken with Andy and Ken about, to set up that girls’ academy in the future,” said Weekes.

“I think it’s widely spoken about in women’s football that there is the lack of opportunity for young girls.

“We need to be there from a young age and give young girls the chance to get into the pathway and build to one day hopefully play for Swansea and maybe even Wales.

“I loved football when I was a kid, but I played for a boys’ team from under-sevens all the way up to under-13s.

Alice Weekes Andy Coleman

“I absolutely loved it, but then when I was I was 12 or 13, I had a phonecall to say ‘sorry but you can’t play anymore because these are the rules’, and I was just absolutely gutted and there was nowhere for me to really go from there.

“I think looking forward now, we want to make sure there opportunities to keep girls in the game because I didn’t have that.

“That feeds back into why I wanted this role, those opportunities weren’t there for me and hopefully we can create more of those opportunities for girls growing up now.

“When I was growing up watching football, if you had asked me who my idols were it would have been men’s players. People like David Beckham or Thierry Henry, I couldn’t have named any women’s players at that point.

“Now Wales have some huge stars that we can all name, and Swansea themselves have some big players. and 

“If we can get them out into the community and inspiring girls then the results will be more girls wanting to play football.

“One of the key reasons I’m excited for the role is because I care about opportunities for girls to play football.”