Wales’ dream of winning the World Cup may be over but qualifying for the tournament was such a huge achievement in itself when you consider the size of the country. This is the first year since 1958 that they have played on the biggest stage and the whole nation was bursting with pride regardless of a win, loss or draw. No pressure was piled on the team to bring football home, they had done that already but the question being asked now, is how momentum can be maintained so that their success can trickle down to grassroots level, which is where the foundations for an even more successful future will be built.
Four million pounds has been made available to clubs across Wales following Cymru’s qualification for the World Cup and the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has said that every penny of the money from FIFA will be spent on grassroots football. Chris Evans who is a volunteer at Baili Glas AFC in Merthyr Tydfil says, “I think grassroots football in general is going to expand because of the success of both the men’s national team and the women’s national team. We’ve seen girls football explode within the club and within the local area so it would be brilliant to see the success at the top level trickle down to the bottom levels.”
Like many clubs across Wales however, Baili Glas AFC face a constant struggle with facilities. With membership numbers soaring, it’s not enough to just have a few grass pitches and we’re not trying to promote indoor training domes here as the answer, although there’s no denying they do add a huge amount of value. In simple terms, clubs need a base with changing facilities, storage and maybe even somewhere to make a cup of tea so it could be that a prefabricated sports pavilion is the solution. This versatile space is a quick and easy way to improve a football venue and provides a warm, comfortable environment for athletes to enjoy pre-game team bonding or post-match analysis. If the facilities are right then clubs are likely to attract and retain keen players as well as good coaches.
The FAW’s chief executive, Noel Mooney, hasn’t been shy in admitting facilities across the country aren’t good enough and has prioritised it as an area that needs addressing. “We’re trying to punch above our weight. Our facilities here are third world so we’ve set out on a very long journey. It’s a long walk to freedom to make sure we have the facilities we need for girls, increasingly, and boys to play football on.”
Noel, if you’re reading this, feel free to give us a call, we’d love to help you on that journey!