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This is Welsh Football

Written by on 31st March 2017

To celebrate the tremendous work being done by clubs, schools and communities to promote the grassroots game in Wales, UEFA and the Football Association of Wales have launched the “This is Welsh Football” photo competition.

Photographers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to submit their images of grassroots football, and could be in with a chance to win UEFA Champions League Final tickets or Sony camera equipment.

As Wales prepares to host two of the biggest matches in club football, the UEFA Champions League Final and UEFA Women’s Champions League Final, it’s important that the incredible work being done at grassroots level is recognised.

The ‘This Is Welsh Football’ photo competition gives people all across Wales an opportunity to celebrate the vibrant grassroots football culture that underpins the elite level of the game. It’s open to all ages and abilities, as long as the photos are taken in Wales, and depict grassroots football.

A selection of the best entries will be displayed as part of the prestigious UEFA Champions Gallery, forming a key part of the UEFA Champions Festival that takes place in Cardiff Bay from 1-4 June 2017.

One of the judges tasked with selecting winners from all submissions is Wales international goalkeeper and renowned artist Owain Fôn Williams.

‘I was brought up in the small village of Penygroes just outside Caernarfon, and my first team was Dyffryn Nantlle, I think it was under-9s, my father was involved at that age group.

I often go back to my local club when I can, pop in and have a look at how everyone is doing, that club is very special to me and my family. As with all grassroots clubs – it’s not just about the football, it’s about the community environment and the other things you learn along the way, it’s vitally important.’

‘That’s where we’ve all come from, it’s vital for any professional player to remember that we’ve all started somewhere. The coaches, parents, volunteers, they all should be given massive thanks for the role they play in developing Welsh Football.

Fôn Williams is a keen artist himself, his work celebrates Welsh community and culture. When asked about how he’d depict Welsh grassroots football, he said:

‘If I were to take a picture that summed up my grassroots experience, it’d probably be quite straightforward. I’d be in a goalmouth somewhere on a wet Saturday morning in Gwynedd, up to my ankles in mud, with my father behind the goal teaching me as the game goes on where I should stand, shouldn’t stand, what I should do and so on.

Also on the judging panel is Wales Women’s international, and current top Welsh international goal scorer, Helen Ward:

‘I just remember turning up on my first session and training indoors at Watford Town Girls. There was a leak in the ceiling where we trained, but the sessions were fantastic, I just remember enjoying them from start to finish, everyone around the club made me fall in love with football and from then on I never looked back.

‘What The FAW Trust are putting in place, particularly on the female side which I know more about, with trials and opportunities for youngsters to get involved in football is fantastic and I know that the pathway from the very bottom to senior level is very strong now. There are a lot of girls interested in playing and that can only be a good thing for the future of the game in Wales.’

‘I’m really looking forward to both UEFA Champions League Finals. Having both the men’s and the women’s Final both in Cardiff is huge for Welsh Football – for them to be coming to Wales after such a good summer last year, it’s just going to be massive for the country and we can’t wait to see some of the world’s best players – hopefully it’ll inspire a new generation of footballers.’

The winning photos will be selected by jury members who are experts in the field of football and/or photography:

  • Owain Fôn Williams: Wales Men’s International & Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC
  • Helen Ward: Wales Women’s International & Yeovil Town Ladies
  • Nick Capaldi: Chief Executive of Arts Council of Wales
  • David Rawcliffe: Official FAW photographer of the Welsh National Teams
  • Paul Murphy: Digital Image Coordinator UEFA
  • Paul Gilham: Director of Photography for Getty Images Sport

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a private opening of the UEFA Champions League Gallery at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 31 May where the winners will be announced.

Prizes include tickets to the UEFA Champions League Final, UEFA Women’s Champions League Final and Sony a5000 and Sony QX1 Lens-Style Cameras.

Photos can be submitted here until 30 April 2017.

What is grassroots football?

Football is based on the grassroots, played everywhere by men and women, boys and girls. The sport brings wider benefits to society as a whole, as it is not only about football skills, but also about values such as team-work, social development, health, fitness and personal fulfilment.

Grassroots football is also a vehicle for educational, social and sporting development, and as such, everybody should have the opportunity to get involved in the game. Grassroots football gives everybody that opportunity, no matter what their age, ability, ethnicity, race, religion or sexual identity.

Why is UEFA investing in grassroots football?

UEFA believes that football and the joy of the game should be available for everybody, and considers the benefits that the sport brings to society as a whole to be a crucial driving force in all the work it does.

Grassroots Football in Wales

Football is the most popular spectator and participation sport in Wales, inspired by iconic Welsh players like John Charles, John Toshack, Jayne Ludlow, Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale.

Football is a way of life in Wales: a game woven into the fabric of society, enjoyed by thousands of men, women and children at all levels throughout the year. The FAW’s vision is of a nation where football is more than a game, achieved through realising our ambitions from grassroots to elite level football.

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