Eluned Morgan MS and minister for Health and Social Services visited Ystradgynlais Football Club on Friday, October 13 alongside members of the Football Association Wales (FAW), including Chief Executive of the FAW, Noel Mooney.
Noel Mooney and Eluned Morgan met with Ystradgynlais AFC club chairman, Carl Williams to discuss how the FAW is prioritizing investment in grassroots facilities like at Ystradgynlais with their recent development of an all-weather pitch at the football club.
Speeches were made by Carl Williams and Noel Mooney about the benefits that football clubs bring to local communities and how the Football Association Wales can help grassroots clubs across the country.
Carl opened Ystradgynlais Community Centre, where the building acts as a clubhouse for the football club and as a hub for the community centre.
Opening up the community centre allowed him to apply for grants to help with the building maintenance and allowed him to offer community based services to the town and surrounding areas.
The community centre offers youth services, welsh language learning days, and has set up their own foodbank, benefitting the community. Volunteers help run the centre.
The FAW recognised the work Ystradgynlais AFC have done in adopting the wellness movement that the association are trying to build, and invested money to help build the all-weather pitch at the club.
Following the speeches on the day, attendees of the visit headed out on to Ystradgynlais’ new all-weather pitch where Eluned Morgan MS and six school children from Ysgol Golwg y Cwm tested out their football skills by taking shots at FAW Chief Executive and former professional goalkeeper, Noel Mooney.
Reflecting on the visit, Noel Mooney highlighted the work Ystradgynlais have done for people in the town. He told The Brecon & Radnor Express: "I’m very lucky because it’s my second time being here in Ystradgynlais in the last few weeks with this beautiful new facility they have here in the shadow of the school.
"Lots of boys and girls are playing football in Ystradgynlais and to see a club that’s adopting the wellness movement we’re trying to build which is not just good for football, but good for society, dealing with all sorts of issues society has to deal with.
"Football is a very powerful tool so for us at the FAW it’s great to see a club like Ystradgynlais becoming a leader in improving society and help it become a healthier, happier Ystradgynlais and a winning ystradgynlais.
“We’ve been very fortunate that Welsh football has gone through a very successful few years and we’ve been able to bring hundreds of thousands of pounds thankfully to Ystradgynlais to build this facility, but we wouldn’t do that unless the club was properly organised and properly structured, so thankfully there’s great people in ystradgynlais who understand what the power of football can be and it’s fantastic to see Ystradgynlais becoming a much better town through football.”
Eluned Morgan MS discussed the importance of the visit and the role sports clubs have in tackling issues in Wales. She said: “I think this has been a really great visit. Working with the Football Association Wales and seeing the amazing work that they’re doing in Ystradgynlais Football Club and how they’re bringing the community together, not just for football but to a broader wellbeing approach to how they can support the community.
“They do need to get the right infrastructure, they do need to get a heart to it so building a new pitch is important but it’s what we can build around that.
“There are real challenges especially in relation to health and wellbeing. We have 20% of our children going into our schools overweight at the age of 5, if we carry on like this we’re going to be in deep, deep trouble in the future. We’ve got to address those issues of too many people in Wales being overweight and obese. We’ve got to address the issues of fitness and mental health and we know that sport is really good for all of those things but even if it’s not sport, if it’s helping to make the tea or to just hang out in the clubhouse, all of that is good for your mental health so getting people together, that’s what this club is doing.
“FAW is really looking to this, I think, as an example of what can be done across Wales and that’s great news.”