Welsh football has won a prestigious honour after the Football Association of Wales was named the Sport Organisation of the Year at the UK Sport Industry Awards 2023, during a ceremony in London on 27 April.
The Sport Organisation of the Year Award comes as the FAW is nearing the halfway point of its 2021-2026 strategic plan – Our Wales – and reflects the incredible work of the volunteers, clubs, staff, and partners from across Welsh football.
The Sport Industry Awards celebrate the work that is done around the sector from world-leading events of all formats and scale, or using sport as a platform to drive social change to campaigns that reverberate throughout the industry and beyond.
The FAW has been recognised for putting Wales on the world stage and using football as a vehicle to progress and elevate the nation. The association was up against tough opposition for Sport Organisation of the Year, with the Professional Triathletes, Liverpool FC, The FA, the Rugby League World Cup and the Lawn Tennis Association all being nominated in the same category.
The FAW used the Cymru Men’s National Team’s first appearance at the FIFA World Cup in 64 years to capitalise on the opportunity to promote the FAW and its strategic objectives & values. The Cymru National Teams and Welsh football was positioned as being pivotal to and embedded within Welsh culture, language, history, and life. Through strong collaboration, the FAW represented the entire nation both on and off the pitch, truly putting Wales on the world-stage.
The Cymru Women’s National Team reached their first ever play-offs for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the closest they have ever come to qualifying for a major tournament. Whilst on this journey, the attendance record was broken three times within 12 months during the campaign, inspiring young girls, and boys across the country. This success comes at a time when the FAW is doubling the investment into the Women’s National Team programme to provide equity across our men’s and women’s support services.
The FAW has also established its first youth council, to give young people a voice in shaping the game in Wales and launched a women’s mentoring programme to build confidence and highlight the opportunities within Welsh football.
Incredible progress has been made on the PAWB Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy that sets out the FAW’s vision, objectives, and actions to become a truly inclusive and representative governing body.
Over the past 12 months the FAW and the Cymru Football Foundation has invested £7.3m into grassroots football, which is the largest programme of funding in the history of Welsh football. This investment supports the FAW’s ambitious participation growth targets under its strategic plan.
In acknowledging the award, FAW CEO Noel Mooney stressed that the hard work isn’t over. Mooney said: “Being recognised at the prestigious Sport Industry Awards as the Sport Organisation of the Year is a tremendous achievement for everyone connected to the game here in Wales. However, everyone at the FAW knows that our work will never be completed as we strive to continuously improve and progress Welsh football.
“We are on a very exciting journey growing Welsh football at all levels to deliver on our strategic aims. We are delivering this both on and off the pitch every day, but the hard work must continue for us to become the world class sports organisation that we want to be.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to the whole FAW team and the Welsh football family. We keep moving forward together.”