First team manager Dan McNamara has hailed the work of Wolves Women’s reserve team and RTC (Regional Talent Club) staff after describing the senior debut of teenage defender Safia Paraiso in last Sunday’s 3-0 FA Cup first round win against Stourbridge as 'phenomenal'.
Paraiso had been named in the squad but, after first choice central defender Emma Cross was ruled out through illness on the eve of the match, the youngster was handed a place in the starting line-up and proved herself in dreadful, rain-sodden conditions on the Compton training ground’s 3G pitch.
McNamara said: “To go out in the starting line-up in her first game at senior level and produce a performance like that, it was absolutely outstanding. ‘Saf’ was really composed on the ball, dealt with balls played in behind, she was rarely troubled and made everything look very easy – I thought she was phenomenal.
“It just goes to show what great work is going on behind the scenes at reserve and RTC levels for us to be producing players like Saf, like Lauren Riley who went on as a late sub against Stourbridge and Tilly Chase, who was on the bench for the game and is transitioning into the first team squad.”
Paraiso’s smooth transition into senior football was highly impressive to watch but not entirely down to the player herself, said the 17-year-old schoolgirl modestly. “I’m normally quite a nervous person,” she admitted, “but the experienced players around me talked me through everything and kept me calm.
“It was a lot less nerve-wracking than I thought it might be and I thoroughly enjoyed it in spite of the conditions. Although we were on the 3G pitch we were splashing around in puddles and it was never easy to play our football. But I thought we dealt with it well and we thoroughly deserved to win the game.
“Obviously after making my debut I want to get more first team chances, but that’s down to the manager and I know I’ve got to keep working hard to earn those chances.”
Those chances will almost certainly arise for the Kidderminster youngster after announcing herself in some style on the senior team stage.
“The cup tie was a great platform for Saf,” said McNamara, “and she showed us she’s more than capable of playing at first team level, technically and physically. She’s given us a selection headache, but the sort of headache a manager likes, and as we get back into league games we will certainly be calling on her again.
“It’s credit to staff like (reserve team manager) Sarah Lowden, who are doing a remarkable job in turning young players like Saf into real challengers for first team places. For me that’s what it’s all about – we want to be looking inside the club rather than outside in terms of building for the future of the women’s team.”