Rhian Cleverly is a CB and captain for Lewes FC in the FA Women’s Championship. She is currently in her third season at the club. Previously she had played at HAC in Le Havre (France), and before that spent 4 years in New York, on a soccer scholarship at Hofstra University, studying psychology & exercise science. Rhian has represented & captained Wales at all youth age groups and was a regular member of the senior squad before moving to the US. Growing up she played for Bristol Academy (now Bristol City).

My Current Goals

Short term goals:

1) Help Lewes FC get promoted into the WSL. Develop the club on & off the pitch, an environment that other people want to be a part of.

2) Use my platform to promote female sport & inspire others to become their best possible selves.

Long term goals:

1) Get back in the FAW squad, go to the Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand 2023.

2) Keep researching & developing knowledge to become a sport psychologist after my playing career.

Typical Training Week


  1. Off - Recovery day (e.g.,yoga/light jog & stretch)


  1. AM: Team technical session
  2. PM: Meeting – Post game analysis


  1. AM: Team technical session
  2. PM: Gym (full body - strength)


  1. AM: Team technical session
  2. PM: Individual session or meeting e.g., sport psych/nutrition/recovery


  1. AM: Team technical session
  2. PM: Gym (upper body – speed/power)


  1. Off - Recovery day (e.g.,yoga/light jog & stretch)


  1. Game Day!

Typical Training Day

8:30 - Wake up

9:00 - Coffee & breakfast

9:30 - Yoga/mobility or pre-activation exercises

10:00 - Team training

12:00 - Lunch with the team

13:30 - Gym

14:30 - Recovery protein shake & snack.

15:00 – 19:00 - Part time work / personal development, e.g., coaching, sport psych, reflection, re-watching training/games.

19.00 - Dinner

19:30 - My time – TV, read, socialise, walk & sunset

21:00 - Prepare kit for tomorrow’s training. Ice bath & foam roll if needed

22.00 – 23:00 - Switch off - lights out (Aim for 9 hours sleep)

Most Effective Workout

Any workout that is competitive brings out the best in me. I hate to lose so whether its 11v11, small-sided games, or even simple warm-up competitions; they really get me motivated and excited for the session. Even in training, I’ll do anything to win, and losing probably effects my mood too much at times. However, I think it’s important workouts create that competitive environment so that a winning mentality becomes a habit. This helps when competition really matters during Sunday games.

Most Effective Exercises

I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of doing the basic exercises really effectively. For instance, back squat was something I always struggled with growing up, due to my hip injury but consistent practice and adaptions to my technique have taken me from practising with a wooden pole to PB's. Personally, I often use a heavy weight with less reps and explode on the up phase. This focuses on my goal to improve my power/speed/explosiveness over just building strength.

I also weirdly enjoy really pushing myself to my limit, and the feelings of confidence & motivation I get when I know I’ve done a really hard aerobic workout. However, as I’m getting more experienced, I’m learning that it’s just as important to train smart. For instance, it’s not always about pushing my body to the limit every day. Equally, the little, consistent details are just as important, e.g. extra rehab or recovery that puts your body & mind in the best place to perform on game day. It’s really important to take time to listen to your body and adapt sessions according to how you feel.


Personally, I have quite a sensitive stomach, so I’ve learnt to be careful with what I eat pre-games & training. I try and keep it plain and make sure I eat early enough to give time to allow the food to digest. My diet depends on the type of training day I have e.g., recovery days will be less carbs/more protein based, whereas double session days or the day before a game I need to ensure I’m eating enough carbohydrates to give me energy. Hydration is also really important to stay healthy and mentally focused so I always try to carry a bottle of water with me and drink a lot of tea.

A classic training day diet for me:

  • Breakfast: porridge with berries & honey OR banana on toast. Tea and/or coffee
  • Lunch: Poached egg, avocado, veggies (spinach, mushroom, peppers) in a whole wheat pitta or wrap.
  • Snack: A protein shake and/or piece of fruit
  • Evening meal: Prawns & vegetable stir-fry.
  • Snack: High protein yogurt with granola. Decaf tea.


MyProtein Whey isolate (protein shake) to help maximise my protein intake for recovery after gym or a hard training session, especially if I can’t eat a meal straight after. Also 1 x Nutrition X Vitamin D3 tablet a day to help with staying healthy, energy & a common deficiency/lack of sunlight (recommended by Lewes FC club nutritionist).

One thing I’ve learnt over my career and living with different teammates in different cultures/countries is diet & nutrition is very individualised. What works for one person might not for someone else. It’s about experimenting and finding a diet that is well balanced and healthy but also that you enjoy eating and makes you feel good for games/training. I’m always speaking to Lewes FC Club nutritionist for advice. For instance, based on his recommendations, this season I added caffeine to my diet/pre-game schedule which I believe has enhanced my performance.

When I Saw Most Improvement

I think when I was 16-19 years old, when I joined Bristol to study & play. It was a big jump from grass roots football with training every day and I was lucky enough to be involved with the first team which was one of the top teams in the UK at the time. This was when I realised I wanted to take football seriously, and learnt how to train & live like a professional from the older players.

Overcoming my worst Injury

My only long-term injury came at an early age (13-14 years old) before I was training professionally. My upper femoral epiphysis (growth plate in my right hip) slipped, which meant I had to get it pinned and was non-weight bearing for 6-8 weeks. I don’t think I’ve had any other significant injuries as I’ve always tried to prioritise strength & conditioning, recovery and nutrition in order to help my body recover & adapt effectively.

Personal Bests

Personal bests – surviving B2A pre-preseason camps. Not letting Ray make me cry.

Recovery Hacks

I have a love/hate relationship with ice baths, but they help my legs to recover & feel refreshed. I have one after a hard training sessions and on a Saturday before the game. I’ve also really felt the benefits of yoga over the last few years. I’m extremely inflexible, to the point that I’m known by my yoga instructor as “the one that gets cramp”. However, being consistent has really helped both my physical mobility and being able to mentally switch off.

My Inspiration

Growing up my role model was always Alex Scott, defender for Arsenal & England. When I was young, the only time women’s football was on TV was the FA Cup Final each year and she always stood out. In addition to her footballing ability, she always seemed to be having fun & playing with a smile on her face. I ended up making my 1st team starting debut for Bristol playing against her & Arsenal! Now she’s transitioned into a really successful post-football career with TV, punditry, and supporting great causes so she continues to inspire me today.

How I stay motivated

B2A has been instrumental for me. During the off-season when most people are relaxing they have provided me with a professional environment to push myself just past what I think I’m capable of, whilst still ensuring it’s an enjoyable experience. I can’t thank Ray & the team enough for putting up with me over the last 3-4 years.

My support system - family & close friends have also helped me massively. My parents who were constantly running around to get me to every training session during my childhood and kept my feet on the ground when my career first started knowing I was naïve to the inevitable tough times to come. My teammates who have often become my closest friends. They have made the best times even better as success is so much more special when you have others to share it with. Equally they have helped me overcome the tough times when I’ve questioned my ability as a footballer.