WALES’ most capped player Neville Southall has heralded Wales’ success in Euro 2016 as a golden opportunity for grassroots football in Wales. Cuts in local authority budgets across Wales have led the FAW to claim there is a real threat to developing young players in the way that stars , such as Gareth Bale , came through the ranks.
Southall said: “We won’t get success if we ignore grassroots football.”
Some at grassroots level say that money from the Welsh Government aimed to encourage the development of grassroots football is not getting through to the youngsters that need it most.
Neville Southall wants to see every child in school playing football and given the dream that they can be the next Gareth Bale. He points out that in order for this to happen , the children must be given the facilities to play on with good coaching.
The legendary goalie is adamant that we won’t get continued success if grassroots football is ignored , and that serious thought should be given to where the kids go and where they play football.
Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee agree with Neville Southall. Speaking to the Herald , their representative Mike Bassett said : “We are in total agreement with Neville Southall. Unfortunately , users have to cover the full operational costs of the facilities they hire. This dramatically increases the running costs of clubs and has a knock -on effect for the development of the game.
“Each club is required to contribute £2500 per pitch and a further £1500 for use of changing facilities. When you also consider the costs of referees, equipment, insurance and the hire of venues for winter training, the sport becomes unaffordable and the number of participants drops. “
Ex-Wales international and former chairwoman of Sport Wales, Prof Laura McAllister, is calling for a much stronger joined-up relationship between local councils, schools and clubs and sports organisations. Her belief is that if you don’t have enough pitches, children can’t play.
According to the FAW Trust, which works to develop the sport at grassroots level, more people in Wales are playing football than ever before. The Head of Growth for the AFW, Jamie Clewer also sees the threat of local government cuts as a challenge to access to facilities and further investment at grassroots level.
Mr Bassett said that he agreed with what a number of people within the FAW were saying . H owever , he said :
“These cuts are affecting local clubs. Talks between Sport Wales, the FAW Trust and CCC should have already taken place and there should be continuous dialogue until a solution is found. It has been left to the CUSC to find all solutions with little support from the FAW Trust.
“The Welsh Assembly Government provides around £1m each year, via Sport Wales, to support the development of grassroots football, but that grant isn’t invested in grassroots football.
“There is certainly a wave of enthusiasm sweeping the nation as Chris Coleman’s team progresses further into the tournament. If Wales were to progress to the finals , it would yield a significant amount of money for the FAW.”
Mr Bassett concluded :
“There is enthusiasm to play the game but the spiralling costs to parents are forcing them to choose between leisure activities. We have lost six football teams since CCC introduced their policy on sports pitches. Previous to this, we had lost one
team in 25 years. Llanerch football pitch in Llanelli has already been earmarked as the site for a new school. These areas are, however, vital if football is to develop in Carmarthenshire. “
Wanderers too strong for Crymych
LLANELLI Wanderers earned their seventh win of the season on Saturday (Apr 6) as they comfortably beat Crymych 34-7.
Rhydian Morgan put the home side ahead with an unconverted try early on and he then scored a penalty to give the home side an 8-0 lead.
Crymych were then guilty of a number of offences and the referee awarded the Wanderers a penalty try. The visitors also had a player sent off which meant they would be a man light for the rest of the game.
That gave Llanelli a 15-0 lead at the break and it didn’t take long for the home side to increased their lead in the second half.
Lewis Jones crossed for the try but the conversion was missed.
Crymych did bring themselves back into the game as Laurence Headlam went over and Gareth Davies added the extra two points.
Rhydian Morgan then crossed for his second try of the game to give his side a bonus point and he then added the extras to take the score to 27-7.
Lloyd Thomas went over for the final try of the game and Morgan again added the extras for a personal haul of 17 points from the game.
That made it 34-7 to the Wanderers and they saw the game out to close the gap on their opponents.
On Saturday (Apr 13), the Wanderers are away as they travel to Whitland while Crymych host Gowerton.
Bont hold on for win
PONTYBEREM kept up their push for promotion as they edged to a 15-13 win away at Carmarthen Athletic on Saturday (Apr 6).
The Bont knew they could not afford to slip up in this game as they continue to chase second placed Pembroke.
The Athletic fielded a different XV to the side they played at the Park earlier in the season and they put on an impressive display.
They were able to keep the Bont at bay as Bradley Roderick scored two penalties to give them a 6-0 lead.
The visitors though began to claw their way back into the game and Rhodri Lewis crossed in the corner for an unconverted try, leaving the score a 6-5 at half time.
Pontyberem upped their game in the second half and a tremendous burst by prop James Prosser saw him go over under the posts having begun his run on the 22-metre line. Mike Sauro then added the extras for a 6-12 lead.
The visitors still had to be alert though as the Athletic threatened to get back into it but Sauro then added a penalty to make it 6-15 to the Bont.
Roderick then intercepted the ball on his own 10-yard line before going on to score and adding the conversion to make it 13-15.
That set up a nervy final six minutes but the Bont held on to keep their promotion hopes alive.
The win means that the Bont are now three points behind second placed Pembroke who they play this weekend (Apr 13).
It is one of the biggest games for both sides and a big crowd is expected at the Park.
Dressage rider is Festivals Champion
GEMMA SOMERS from Nantgaredig has won the Petplan Equine Novice Silver Championship at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships on Hallucination. The combination have spent the winter preparing for the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships held at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire from April 11-15.
Hallucination is a British bred 17.3hh, six-year-old mare owned by William Shufflebottom and ridden by Gemma.
The talented partnership clearly impressed the judges holding the lead throughout the 32-strong class despite being the first combination to trot down the centre line achieving an impressive score of 73.06%.
Nantgaredig-based rider Gemma Somers was delighted with Hallucination’s performance in an exciting atmosphere with some outstanding dressage tests and exceptional combinations competing for the Petplan Equine Novice Silver title. “It’s amazing to win,” said Gemma, “It’s her first time here so it’s been quite daunting for her! She’s been perfect all day, for the prize giving this evening she was a bit overwhelmed. I broke her in, so I’ve been her only rider, we started at unaffiliated competitions, joined BD and progressed from there.”
“She was really calm and relaxed – she can get quite tense and shoot off when she doesn’t like the look of something – but today she didn’t, she was just with me the whole time. It was a lovely test and I’m so pleased with her.”
The Petplan Equine Area Festivals, now in their 19th year, provide riders across the levels from Preliminary to Intermediate II with the chance to experience the thrill of competing in top competition style conditions. 27 Area Festivals took place all around the country in 2017 with over 4,200 horse and rider combinations taking part.
A further eight Area Festival Finals were then contested to gain qualification for the Championships at Hartpury.
Kate Hopkins, Marketing Consultant at Petplan Equine, commented; “We have been bowled over by the continued success of the Petplan Equine Area Festivals, participation has increased again, and the standard continues to rise at every Championships. We are proud and delighted to sponsor a series that has become so important to amateur and aspiring dressage riders around the country. It is an opportunity for grassroots riders to showcase the immense talent out there. We would especially like to congratulate Gemma and Hallucination on their fantastic win and wish her the very best of luck for the future.”
British Dressage’s Chief Executive Jason Brautigam said: “I am always very impressed with the dedication and commitment shown by competitors participating in the Petplan Equine Area Festivals series. The growth in the number of combinations going down the centre line continues to surpass all our expectations.
“The new format introduced last year, with the addition of the eight Area Festival Finals, has allowed even more people to experience the atmosphere of a top dressage competition – with the Championships being the icing on the cake. Petplan Equine’s support of the Area Festivals will soon be entering its 20th year, which is testament to how much they have been a loyal, committed and trusted supporter of our sport. BD really values the contribution that they make, and long may this partnership continue.”
Further information about the Petplan Equine Area Festivals and how to qualify for next year’s finals is available from the Petplan Equine website at: www.petplanequine.co.uk/area-
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