A woman from Pembrokeshire is currently representing Great Britain in Finland in the 2022 American football IFAF Women’s World Championships.

Zoe John, from Herbrandston, is the only Welsh member of the team, as they aim to halt the dominance of the USA in the competition.

Zoe was 24 when a friend of hers set up the Cardiff Valkyries, who are still the only women’s team in Wales.

Despite Dr John recently completing her PhD in Cardiff, she still looks back fondly on her Pembrokeshire days, calling herself “a small village girl.”

She said: “All my family are based in Pembrokeshire, and I try to visit when I can. With all the training, balancing with the PhD write up, and working, it’s all been a little hectic.

“I can’t wait to get some time to finally breath back Sandy Haven air – I used to go there pretty much every day.”

Milford Mercury: Zoe in action playing American footballZoe in action playing American football

Since the inaugural IFAF Women’s World Championship in 2010, the United States has won all three competitions.

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s best performance was a fourth-place finish in the last tournament (2018, in Sweden), losing 19-8 in the play-off match to Mexico.


Although Zoe wasn’t the sportiest during her days at Herbrandston Primary School, Milford Haven Comprehensive and Pembrokeshire College, Zoe is confident ahead of the world championships.

Zoe added: “The squad are looking strong as we go to face Canada. We’ve consistently bonded as a team, and we’re aggressive on both sides of the ball. We’re ready for it, and we’re going to take it all in our stride.

“Our hopes? Gold. No doubt about it. That’s what we came here for.”

Milford Mercury: Zoe is the only Welsh player in the Great Britain Lions squadZoe is the only Welsh player in the Great Britain Lions squad

However, even after the tournament ends, Zoe claims to be part of a much bigger project, growing the American football game in Great Britain and in Wales specifically.

She said: “A lot of people think it’s rugby with pads and that it’s cheating. For that reason I think people don’t respect the game, simply because they don’t know what it’s about.

“The hopes for the long-term future of American football in Wales is just to keep growing, especially in the women’s game.

“It would be fantastic to eventually have a strong Welsh network of teams for women, given that there are much more senior teams (which is primarily men) around.”