Budding football star Shaunna Jenkins insists confidence is soaring as she looks to one day realise her dream of playing for a professional club.
The 16-year-old, from Aberaeronn, currently plays for Cwbran Celtic, who have just finished fourth in the Welsh Premier Womenâ€™s League.
After establishing herself in the first team and on the fringe of the Wales national squad, Jenkins is aiming big, admitting she would love to star in the FA Womenâ€™s Super League in England one day.
Jenkins is part of the first ever cohort at the Elite Football Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd, and insists that the move to the Ystrad Mynach campus has done wonders on and off the pitch.
Jenkins, who also benefits from being a part of the SSE Next generation programme, spoke about her time at Coleg y Cymoedd: â€œPeople who I have spoken to are gutted that they didnâ€™t have this chance in the past but we have it now. I wasnâ€™t sure whether to go to this college or not but now I have gone there, I am so glad. At the start I wasnâ€™t that confident but it has just made a massive difference to myself and really boosted my confidence. I am not as nervous now.
â€œWe have college games too and played a five-a-side tournament. We won and went to Newcastle and it was really nice to play a game like that with a new bunch of girls and help them, and give them the guidance that I had and pass on what I know to them. I would like to start in my WSL 2 (Womenâ€™s Super League 2) and then make my way up to WSL 1 (Womenâ€™s Super League 1) eventually and stay in there until the end of my career.â€
This year Jenkins has represented Wales LadiesUnder-19s, while she has also been a part of the senior squad at times and she admits the experience is one that has only served to whet her appetite for more.
â€œIt is a great experience, going on camps with the seniors. It is just getting to know what they are like and that makes a massive difference. I would say that has beneficiated me in a way too, because I am one of the youngest ones there and to go into a team with so much talent is so hard but so good at the same time.â€
SSEâ€™s Next Generation Programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future.Â Â
Rhondda Cynon Taff