I should have worn my wellies. After a number of re-arranged dates due to postponements caused by the weather, I met with coaches and players from the Vale of Glamorgan mini leagues in Barry on Saturday.
The people that put in such a great deal of effort to get so many fixtures organised and played in Barry deserve a great deal of credit. But for many the hard work is of often undone due to the pitches being deemed to be in an unplayable condition. This is why I am repeating my call to see the largest town in Wales benefit from the next generation of playing surfaces. Many towns and cities across Wales have installed 4G pitches and this has transformed how youth football operates. It means fewer postponements, better playing surfaces and participation in sport increasing for young boys and girls from every community in Barry and the wider Vale.
The parents and coaches I spoke with at length appreciated the challenges of maintaining grass pitches – but they visit other facilities newly opened in other parts of South Wales and quite rightly ask why Barry doesn’t yet benefit from a similar facility.
Over 40 teams were playing on Saturday morning across a number of venues – this is a huge difference compared to when I played sport as a youngster. It is so much better organised and we should have the facilities to match the level of enthusiasm shown by parents and children. Funding is available and I believe that a number of locations – dependent on FIFA standards – could be identified in Barry to ensure access is available for as many children as possible.
Every coach and young player I spoke to just wants to play sport on a decent surface. There is a huge sense of disappointment for a young player hoping to play with his friends on a Saturday morning when matches can be called off for several consecutive weeks. There is a real appetite within the sporting community to see the next superstar Welsh footballer to hail from the Vale of Glamorgan. Without the facilities to match the ambition, these youngsters and talented coaches are unable to make the most of their ability. The principal town in the Vale of Glamorgan needs new 4G pitches now.