Over the past two years, Swansea City Community Trust and the Welsh Football Trust have formed a healthy relationship to serve the communities of West Wales in a variety of different ways through football.
With a thriving holiday camp programme now in place and genuine relationships with Local Authority Sports Development Units and Leisure Centres created via WFT Club Development Officers, local youngsters both male and female are benefitting from the quality sessions now produced throughout the area.
Working together on a remit of increasing participation and to a degree helping to find the next Gareth Bale or Jess Fishlock , has resulted in a much more efficient and productive programme for all concerned.
With this in mind, plans were brought together to take the partnership to the next level and become more formal in its approach. The result being a planned pathway to ensure the objectives and targets of all partners were identified, promoted and supported for the benefit of football in Wales and its participants.
Within this targeted approach, the power of the Swansea City brand is a key ingredient as the quest to 'Grow the Game and Raise Standards' moves forward.
A key element of the partnership is to break down barriers and open up opportunities for young females to access the game, under the Headline Target of; 50% of young people playing football by 2024, which includes a further remit within that target to have 20,000 registered female players by 2024 nationally.
SCFC Trust in partnership with WFT have brought together the key players in an organised and structured process to develop ideas to open up those doors and intend to hit the ground running for the new academic year starting September 2015 with a series of long term projects aimed at female participation.
The projects will be based in and around the Swansea City Local Authority boundaries and will include the expertise of not only SCFC Trust coaches but also Authority based Sports professionals and local volunteers from the communities.
A large part of the project is in response to Swansea schoolchildren who took part in the Schools Sports Survey (2014) and aims to provide some of the answers to the issues highlighted by the survey.
These will include a series of multi sport club hubs assisted by NGBs of Rugby, Hockey and Netball, after school site development leagues, Welsh medium hubs and monthly fun camps.
Colin Staples WFT Partnership Manager said, 'It is pleasing and hopefully rewarding to see this evolving partnership grow, with likeminded organisations working together for the benefit of welsh sport and its youngsters.'
It is anticipated that by March 2016 the opportunities created will give a positive indicator towards the end goal of 50% of young people playing football in Wales by 2024 being achieved.
With a further project running alongside (led by SCFC Coordinator Ian Owen) to encourage those children who may have dropped out of sport at a young age to return and become active again, Swansea City Community Trust are leading the way in the development of sports participation in Wales.