CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has called for action from the Welsh Government and the Football Association of Wales to transform grassroots football in North East Wales.
The AM, whose constituency contains the Huws Gray Alliance team Cefn Druids, called for greater financial support for clubs to install innovative new types of playing surfaces and develop infrastructure at local grounds.
In a report he co-authored as part of the Assembly’s Communities Committee, the AM said changes such as installing 3G pitches could help clubs generate new sources of income.
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said:
“Our report raises some important issues about grassroots football that need to be tackled if we are to produce the great players of the future and help secure the financial future of local clubs.
“As we did the report, in the back of my mind all the time was the club down the road from me, Cefn Druids. They are a fantastic, outward looking club and with a little bit of extra support and assistance could further develop their facilities to become an important hub for the local community.
“The Welsh Government and the Football Association of Wales (FAW) need to explore ways in which clubs can benefit from financial support, such as through the installation of new types of playing surfaces, also known as third and fourth generation pitches.
“Evidence we gathered shows that 3G and 4G pitches are low-maintenance, hard-wearing and versatile, allowing them to be used for a range of sports and activities which could benefit a community and provide clubs with a much-needed financial boost, without compromising the quality of the playing surface.”
The Committee held a series of meetings around Wales and invited clubs to put forward their concerns and ideas. Many saw the sport’s governing body, the FAW, as irrelevant and couldn’t see the benefits of the strategies developed by the organisation at grass roots level.
The AM added:
“We also need to see the FAW develop new and closer relationships with clubs in the Welsh Premier League and in the feeder leagues below it. Without these vital community clubs, grassroots football would wither away and they need to be better supported.”
The Committee made nine recommendations in its report, including:
• The FAW and local authorities should explore opportunities for WPL clubs wishing to develop the Community Hub model to seek financial support for the development of the new style of pitches.
• As part of the FAW‘s proposed Community Hub model, the FAW and local authorities should work together to ensure that the clubs have assistance to reach all parts of their communities.
• The FAW needs to prioritise communication and relationship-building with the WPL clubs, because without their co-operation, it will not be possible to deliver any of their strategies.