Richards Relishes Senior Role
Jade Richards has been using her experience to help Aston Villa Ladies’ young guns this season
Jade Richards smiles and raises the idea of a testimonial when asked how long she’s worn the claret and blue of Aston Villa Ladies.
She may only be 25 but the defender’s affiliation with the club goes back 15 years to when she signed on with the Girls Centre of Excellence.
After leaving for city rivals Birmingham aged 13, Jade returned just shy of her 18th birthday and she’s been an ever-present in the Villa team ever since.
This season, with the youthful makeup of a squad that features teenagers Ebony Salmon, Sian Rogers and Jodie Hutton, Richards is enjoying taking a senior role in the dressing room.
She said: “It’s always good to have youngsters in the team and they bring something different. We’ve got Ebony’s pace, we’ve got Sian’s willingness to learn – she takes feedback well.
“That’s what you want from the younger players. You want them to ask you questions, you want to be the ones to pick them up when they’re down.
“Playing ladies football is a new world compared to playing youth football and we hope to have a positive impact on their futures.”
When she’s not making tackles and winning headers at the back for Villa Ladies, Richards is heavily involved in nurturing the club’s next generation of footballers.
She manages the girls under-12 side and the regional talent club, experience which helps her pass on advice as and when her Aston Villa Ladies teammates need it.
“You’re trying to bridge gaps between the younger players and the older ones, trying to nurture them and make them as professional as possible,” Richards said.
“But you’ve still got to have a laugh, that little bit of fun with them. We’re all in it together and we’re playing a team sport. We’ve got to do it not just for the 11 on the pitch but the coaches, the substitutes and everyone at the club.”
Of the current squad, only Katy Moran has been at the club longer than Richards – with the pair arriving within weeks of each other in 2010.
Richards has been through highs and lows with the club since then, and whilst she admitted that the current campaign has had its share of struggles, the centre-back believes the club is positioning itself to experience success in the long run.
She said: “The season’s been challenging. We haven’t performed to the best of our abilities. I believe that with the staff and the structure of the club, it’s only a matter of time before things start clicking into place.
“We’re putting things in place for the future and everyone knows that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long time. But eventually we will get the right results on and off the pitch.”