With just one month to go before Euro 2016, Wales football bosses today announced that the game is flourishing at all levels.

The FAW Trust – the charitable arm of the FAW that is responsible for the development of football in Wales – today revealed:


  • More people in Wales are playing football than ever before
  • The number of boys playing extracurricular football has increased by more than 15% over the last five years
  • The number of girls participating in extracurricular football has increased by 7% over the last five years
  • Since 2004, its disability programme has seen players increase from 100 in just three clubs to almost 900 players across 26 clubs
  • UEFA recognises Wales as being a world leader in coach education, being the first country to introduce online learning in a bid to encourage more coaches and volunteers into the game


Neil Ward, CEO of the FAW Trust, explained:


“The success of the national teams can be attributed to a production line of talented players being developed by the Trust.


“But, of course, it’s not just about national teams. We are ambitious about building a better future for football and want to see 50% of all Welsh children playing at least once a week by 2024. We are committed to making football as flexible as possible so that we fit in with people’s busy lives. There are those who are turned off by a nine month football season, particularly if we have bad weather. And that’s why we’ve introduced shorter and sharper versions of the game such as futsal and the FAW Cwpan y Bobl five a side competition,” adds Ward.


“We are very proud of the work we are doing to increase the number of women and girls playing – in recent years, we set up a national league and regional performance structure. There will always be girls who want to play football and won’t need any persuading but for others we are introducing creative, diverse offers – for example, we’ve created Beatball which puts football to music. We’ve got to try new things if we want to see a significant improvement in our participation numbers. That’s something Sport Wales have been very supportive of”, added Ward.

The work of the FAW Trust has been recognised by the UEFA Grassroots Charter which benchmarks grassroots programmes and development. It ranks Wales as one of only 11 countries in Europe, on its highest rung.

Ian Rush is among those their support behind the work of the FAW Trust: 

"The success of the national team is mirrored by the progress being made at the grassroots level. The FAW Trust and its partners are working hard to extend the reach of football and to grow the game – and they are succeeding. The increased numbers of boys and girls playing the game speak for themselves."

Jonathan Ford, CEO of the Football Association of Wales, said:

“As we now enter the final countdown for Euro 2016, it’s important we celebrate the achievements at all levels of the game. Major progress has been made in increasing the numbers of children playing football in Wales and, for that, the FAW Trust should be applauded. It’s crucial we continue to see investment into the grassroots game if we are to build a better future for football in Wales.”

Sarah Powell, Chief Executive of Sport Wales


“While the senior team are participating at Euro 2016, the work on the community game continues to provide a solid basis for the next generation.


“There has been a passion to look at different forms of the game, increasing access for those who haven’t played before and looking at the structure and workforce needed to support the future of football in Wales. These are vitally important if we are going to continue growing participations levels.


“Having all these elements in place means that Wales is well-placed to take advantage of the interest and enthusiasm that the Euros will generate and continue to produce players, coaches and managers like Gareth Bale, Chris Coleman, Jayne Ludlow and Jess Fishlock.”


But despite the progress, the FAW Trust claims there is still much to achieve:


“Football is making a huge contribution to national levels of physical activity and people being hooked on sport for life. Through the Sport Wales School Sport Survey, boys and girls have told us they want to play more football and the protection of investment in facilities is vital to achieve this,” explains Ward.


“We know that the public sector is facing huge budget challenges but we need pitches in Wales to remain open, be maintained and be affordable. And we need more schools to open their facilities to the community – not only so that the game of football can flourish but so that our children have the opportunity to be physically active and healthy.”

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