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    23 October, 2006

    Rhondda Sports

    We debated sports policy in the Assembly last week, and I used the opportunity to pay tribute to some of those involved in encouraging participation in sports by young people in the Rhondda.

    Leighton Andrews: The Minister referred
    earlier to success in Welsh sport. As one of
    the 20,000 spectators at Ninian Park stadium
    last night, I say to the Minister, in case he
    had not noticed, ‘We are top of the league,
    say, we are top of the league’. I know that
    you, like me, were behind the goal at the
    Grange end 38 years ago when Cardiff City
    Football Club was playing SV Hamburg in
    the semi-final of the European cup winners’
    cup. We look forward to getting beyond
    those heights in future.

    Turning to sports development and those
    people in the community without whom we
    could not encourage more people to
    participate in activity. I think that the
    Minister is right to spend time encouraging
    participation in sports because, throughout
    our communities, we have a whole range of
    people who give of their own time, whether it
    is informally to coach sporting teams at the
    weekends or in the middle of the week, or to
    run organisations that work with disabled
    young people to encourage them to swim,
    such as the Rhondda Polar Bears in my
    constituency. The Boys’ and Girls’ Club,
    which has clubs throughout our communities,
    and does not often get recognition in the
    National Assembly, does a huge amount of
    work to promote the active participation of
    young people in a range of sporting activity.

    mThose people who have been successful in
    sports often remain at the forefront of giving
    something back to their communities. Scott
    Young, the former Cardiff City player, still
    gives a lot back to the community in the
    Rhondda, for example. Missy Lender from
    the Rhondda Rebels basketball team gives a
    huge amount of time and commitment to
    encouraging confidence-building, particularly
    among young women, in activities in which
    she gets involved in the Rhondda valley.
    Ryan Jenkins, the Commonwealth table
    tennis champion, also coaches young people
    in the Rhondda valley. Those people’s
    contributions need to be acknowledged and

    We must also remember sometimes that we
    are not just talking about the mass
    participation sports; there are many other
    sports that people are actively promoting in
    Wales. I know that the Minister will be
    wholehearted in his support, for example, for
    the 2008 world field archery championships,
    which will be held in the Rhondda valley.

    There is a range of teams playing sports at all
    levels, and it is good to see those activities
    happening. At the weekend, I was watching
    Treorchy smash Hirwaun at rugby, and I
    know that the Minister ended his own rugby
    career playing for Ystrad Rhondda at the
    Treorchy ground, but I will leave it to him to
    tell you about that. There are too many rugby
    teams in the Rhondda valley to mention all of
    them. However, I want to pick out
    Tylerstown women’s rugby team, which is
    doing a huge amount of successful work to
    promote the cause of women’s rugby in

    Glyn Davies: Having appreciated your
    enthusiasm, and that of the Minister, for
    rugby—an obvious skill—is there any chance
    that both of you will be willing to play for the
    Assembly team when we take on the Houses
    of Parliament next spring?

    Leighton Andrews: I have no skill in terms
    of rugby; I am sure that the Minister can
    speak for himself. Denise Idris Jones has already paid tribute to
    the passion that Ann Jones brings to her
    support of Rhyl Football Club, in the Welsh
    Premier League. Ton Pentre Football Club is
    looking forward to its encounter in the cup
    with Rhyl Football Club in a few weeks’

    I have one specific issue to raise, which has
    been brought to my attention by one of the
    organisations working closely with young
    people in the Rhondda valley to encourage
    football coaching in schools, namely the
    Cambrian Village Trust in Clydach Vale,
    which you will be familiar with. It is
    specifically concerned about the level of
    sports match funding, which currently stands
    at around £15,000, but is higher in England.
    Will you look at that issue? In England, I
    think that sports match funding can go up to
    around £50,000, but I think that, in Wales, it
    is restricted to £15,000. It is also concerned
    about the approach of the Football
    Foundation and the availability of its funds to
    clubs in Wales. Will you explore both of
    those issues?

    The policy being put forward today is a good
    one. It is right that we are seeking to
    encourage sporting excellence, as well as
    encouraging participation in sport.

    Rhondda TV
    The Labour Party

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.