Mother’s Day | Swansea City Women | Nicola Jones and AJ

10th March
Nicola Jones AJ Swans Women

Swansea City Women goalkeeping coach Nicola Jones will celebrate Mother's Day with AJ on Sunday hopeful her role with the Swans and the growth of the women's game can prove an inspiration for her daughter and all girls wanting to get involved in football.

Jones understands well the sacrifices all mothers have to make as they juggle work and life commitments with the desire to always be present for their children.

She joined Swansea City in 2022 with the under-19's, before becoming part of the first team set up in 2023, and works with the side’s goalkeepers, having finished her own playing career last season.

The 35-year-old had hung up her gloves before the birth of AJ, but found herself back between the sticks just two years later, and admitted that returning to playing carried a particular resonance as a mother.

“I had AJ at 30, I returned to playing at the age of 32 with Pontardawe alongside a group of the girls I had played with years ago,” says Jones.

“AJ has always known me to be involved in football to some degree, I was playing for a while after she came along, and she would come to every single game, rain or shine.

“It was a big decision for me to go back, it’s obviously giving up time being at home to play football.

“Football had more meaning for me after having AJ, especially the time sacrificed for away games and stuff like that, the games had to have meaning for me.

“But having her there meant that bit more, I wasn’t sacrificing that time and not being involved, she was very much a part of it.”

Nicola Jones Swansea City Women goalkeeping coach

While finishing her playing career, Jones worked towards getting into coaching as she completed her  badges with aspirations to reach the top of the women's game in Wales.

This goal was achieved when Jones joined the Swans in the summer of 2022, and she feels that move has served as a great inspiration for AJ, from seeing her mum wearing the badge to being on the field for the warm-up when Swans Women play at the Stadium.

“For her to know that her mother is involved with Swansea City is huge,” says Jones.

“Since I’ve come over to the Swansea City set up, it’s a big iconic club that she has recognition of, being friends with older children who will wear the shirts.

“She will always ask if she can come and if she can do it one day when she grows up, but it’s always been cool to have her on the sidelines.

“At any level, I just want to be that inspiration for her. But to know that I’m involved at such a high level in women’s football now and be that role model is amazing.

“When I was growing up we only had male role models in the game, so to be part of that driving force for women’s and girls football in Wales and helping to build that future for her generation is massive.

“It’s hard to put into words just how it felt for her to see me on the pitch at the Stadium, for her to see me in that position is really special.

Robyn Pinder AJ Swans Women

“She had the chance to be a mascot on the day, she talks about the players all the time, Claire [Skinner] and Robyn [Pinder] being her favourites. The pictures that we got that day are something I will treasure forever, and I can’t put into words what that day meant to both of us.

“She has taken the pictures to school, keeping her mascot lanyard with her like a little trophy.”

Jones supports Swansea City Women’s goalkeepers in training twice a week at Landore Training Academy, before travelling across Wales for matchdays every Sunday, all whilst working nights as a respite carer.

These responsibilities see her miss out on valuable time with AJ at home in the evenings, but she knows her daughter understands the requirements of her roles and hopes to continue inspiring her on and off the field.

“She understands it all, she knows the nights that I’m at football, she knows that there will be games on the weekend,” adds Jones.

“I think we all make a sacrifice with or without children, you give up that time with your family to commit to what we do, but for her to see me in that position and be a part of it; she talks about it all the time.

“The balance is tough; football is a hobby and a passion for me. Missing bed time, missing homework time, missing tea time, that is hard, but I know I’m doing it to develop players.

“If coaching and football didn’t give me as much satisfaction as it does, I would probably find it harder to be able to do it.

“It can be tough on occasions to switch between the two mentalities, I have that time on my drive home to go through and get back into Mum mode. You have that adrenaline going on and all these mixed emotions, but as a Mum you learn to switch them off.

“AJ understands what results mean, when we lose she’s gutted as well, but in the world of Mum nothing else really matters at that time.

“I work nights so that was a bonus because I can be there all day anyway and it wasn’t compromising too much time, but with games being on a weekend there is a sacrifice away from the family that everybody makes.”

Having seen Nicola involved in football as a player and a coach, AJ has now taken to the field herself as she plays for Baglan’s under-six girls’ team.

Although Jones knows her own love for the game has definitely had an influence on AJ wanting to play football herself, she credits the rise of the women's game for inspiring so many young girls to take up the game.

“Whether I was involved in football or not, I would drive her to pursue sport in general," said Jones.

“She plays football now, but I think that has come from not only what I do, but also how big women’s and girls’ football is now.

“She hasn’t had to play for a boys’ team, she plays for an all-girls’ team, they’ve got 15 girls under the age of six involved and it’s attracting so many children.

“She has her goalkeeper gloves and will go in goals on a training evening, but they don’t have goalkeepers at this age.

“She was a bit apprehensive at first, but she was the last one off the pitch once she got going. It’s wonderful to see her and so many girls inspired to take up the game and enjoy it.”