With just one month to go until the FIFA World Cup, last night (25 October), the Senedd played host to an exclusive Q&A session with Cymru football manager Rob Page which saw children from local sports teams meeting their hero and asking about pre-tournament preparations and jetting off to Qatar.
Players from the Tiger Bay Juniors football club got the opportunity to ask their questions to the man that led Wales to the global football stage.
Abdul Salam, who plays striker for Tiger Bay Juniors football club, asked the manager about the team’s diversity.
He said, “When I look at the Wales team I don’t see a lot of players who are from an Asian background, so I really wanted to ask Rob about this. I was happy with his answer because it’s important that everybody has a fair chance at playing for Wales if you’re good enough. I really hope that there will be more Asian players playing for Wales as it will inspire more children to want to play football.”
Cymru ar Ben y Byd (Wales on Top of the World) was co-hosted between the Senedd, Football Association of Wales and BBC Cymru Wales, S4C and ITV Cymru Wales. The broadcasters have worked together to ensure free-to-air live coverage of every Wales game in the FIFA World Cup.
The Senedd event was presented by journalist Catrin Heledd and live streamed online for fans to enjoy at home. The public submitted questions over social media with a lucky handful being answered by the Wales manager.
The event also included speeches by the Llywydd, the Right Honourable Elin Jones MS, the First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, and Noel Mooney, Chief Executive of the FAW.
Abdi Rahman, who also plays for Tiger Bay Juniors, asked the manager what he looked for in a player when choosing his Wales squads.
Rob Page answered, “It’s not all about whether you’re good enough to play for Wales. If you’re good enough you’re going to be in that changing room, but the biggest thing for us is the environment. It’s not just about whether you’re a good footballer, but about how you conduct yourself off the pitch.
“I brought in two young players to the last camp because I wanted them to experience how Ben Davies, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale go about their business, on and off the pitch, not just them as players but about their character and how they react to negative situations. That they don’t sulk, but they roll their sleeves up and work even harder to make it a success.”
Rt. Hon. Elin Jones MS, Llywydd of the Senedd, said, “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Rob to the Senedd to wish him and the team the best of luck in their final preparations before heading to Qatar.
“Millions of fellow Cymru supporters will be hoping for a successful campaign but, whatever transpires on the pitch, it’s certain that our pride and gratitude for what Rob and the team have done will be – to borrow a phrase – yma o hyd.”
“His achievement in getting Wales qualified for our first World Cup in 64 years will go down in the history books. The team is a credit to Wales, and it will be incredibly exciting to see them taking their place on the biggest stage in the sporting world in a few weeks’ time.”