Wales Touch Association applauded for use of Welsh language

Wales Touch Association broke the sporting mould when they launched the six brand new regions that competed at the inaugural National Championships in April 2013…each of the regions were given a bilingual name.
Wales Touch Nationals Logo

 

 

Bilingual Branding

When Wales Touch Association (WTA) presented the names and branding for the Wales Touch Nationals held for the first time in April 2013, they created history by being the first sporting body in Wales to create sporting franchises with bilingual names.

Welsh-language television broadcasters, S4C use the translated version of many teams in the British Isles, for example, Caeredin when referring to Edinburgh Rugby, Caerloyw for Gloucester and Gweilch when discussing the Ospreys.  Many Welsh language publications or TV and radio programmes would also use direct translations when describing Cardiff City FC’s Bluebirds as Adar Gleision or Swansea City’s Elyrch (Swans). 

However, this is the first time that the owners of a brand, in this case a regional representative team, have proactively named the regions in both English and Welsh and reflected this in all of the branding.

Cyclones – Seiclonau
Rangers – Ceidwaid
Rebels – Gwrthryfelwyr
Red Kites – Barcutiaid Coch
Titans – Titaniaid
Warriors – Rhyfelwyr

A Living Language?

So why have the WTA done this and why is it important?

In Wales, around 1 in 5 people speak Welsh but the 2011 census shows that the traditional Welsh-language ‘hot beds’ where the language is the predominant language are reducing.  There are many varied and complex reasons for this which won’t be covered here.

% of Welsh Speakers in Wales, 2011 Census

Despite the fact that approximately a quarter of school children in Wales are educated through the medium of Welsh and all children in Wales are taught Welsh as a second language in school, there are precious few opportunities for youngsters to use and develop their Welsh in their recreation time.

There are excellent organisations such as the Urdd who exist to give people opportunities to use their Welsh.  However, once young people grow up and leave school, they may have limited opportunities to use their Welsh skills.

Some young people will simply stop speaking the language, seeing it as something belonging to the classroom or even worse, an embarrassment.

If the language is to survive – and the fact that it may not is a scary reality, then it’s use must extend beyond the classroom and into everyday life.  It needs to be seen and heard on the street, in shops, on TV, on the radio, in gigs.  In short, it needs to be normal for Welsh to be heard everywhere in Wales.  Even in the areas where it’s a tiny minority, those that chose to use it should not face an uphill struggle or have to protest in order to do so.

Welsh in the Mainstream

There is some truly excellent work being done to ensure that public services and to a lesser degree, large private companies act responsibly and offer some or all services in Welsh.  Some organisations such as HM Customs & Revenue have outstanding Welsh-speaking staff and it is possible to phone the Welsh help line to deal with tax matters in either language equally.

However, many of Wales’ sporting bodies have not truly embraced bilingualism and it is they that can really lead by example and encourage youngsters to not only use their unique language, but to be proud of it.

Poor Support for Welsh from NGBs

The Welsh rugby team is crammed with Welsh speakers, such as George North, Rhys Priestland, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies,  Mike Phillips and Ken Owens to name but a few.  Imagine a ‘Use Your Welsh’ campaign featuring these players.  This could truly hit home with youngsters who idolize their heroes.

In fact, of the 11 National Governing Bodies (NGB) in Wales that receive over £400,000 of public funding, only three of them have a Welsh language policy.  Of the 42 NGBs that received public funding in Wales, 37 of them operate English-only websites.

In fact, it is sad to note that there is currently a campaign against the Welsh Rugby Union.  The WRU have been criticised for failing to provide supporters with the ability to access their services in their native language and pressure is mounting on them to communicate with their customers equally in both languages.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) are calling on the WRU to not only update their Welsh-language policy, but to operate their social media and websites bilingually, develop Welsh-medium courses and make all promotional materials bilingual.

The predicted costs for doing so are minimal but it does take some extra time, effort and patience to do so.

Amateurs Leading the Way

Compare this to the WTA; an amateur organisation that is completely self-funded and does not receive any outside grants or sponsorship.  It creates very little revenue and does not employ any staff.  It is run purely by volunteers whose love for the game is what keeps them putting in the hours behind the scenes.

The WTA have been posting to their Facebook page for the last 18 months

The WTA have been posting bilingually to their Facebook page for the last 18 months

 

So to decide to not only create Welsh names for the new regions, but to display them equally on the team logos is impressive and should be applauded.  The WTA does not yet have a Welsh-language policy, but it’s social media streams have been posting bilingually and the will is there for the organisation to operate bilingually.  The WTA’s new website is also being developed to be available in both Welsh and English.

A Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg spokesperson said:

“Sports can play an important role in promoting the use of the Welsh language and the Wales Touch Association deserves praise for this positive step. Hopefully this will set an example for other sporting bodies.”

So to the Wales Touch Association executive board, I thank you for leading the way and long may this continue so that young people can see that Welsh is part and parcel of life in Wales and is something to be proud of.

Perhaps some of the other sports bodies in Wales which receive £400,000+ a year of public funding will soon follow suit.

What about you?  Tell us about your experiences (good and bad) of dealing with sporting organisations in Welsh.  Use the comment box below

Historic Announcement for Touch

Wales Touch Association announce that the inaugural National Championships will be held in April 2013.  Six regions are to be formed and will compete in Mens, Womens and Mixed open categories.  The West Wales squad will be made up of players residing in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

So why is this announcement so important for the development of Touch in Wales?

Cymru Rhanbarthau Cyffwrdd | Wales Touch Regions

It’s A Numbers Game

In Wales in 2012, there were less than 3,000 men and women playing Touch (WTA figures).  The overwhelming majority of Touch is played in Cardiff and therefore the national teams are little more than Cardiff regional teams, peppered with a handful of players from Swansea, Wrexham, Llanelli and some of the main English cities.

Compare this to England where there are already national club competitions (National Touch Series and Challenge Touch Series) as well as an inter-regional competition in which regional franchises compete.  The best regional players are then chosen to represent at national level.  There are more Touch players in England (approximately 5,500 according to ETA)  and with the regional structure, it is little wonder that they are the current European Champions.

Considering the low number of participants, Wales has been punching above it’s weight at international level for some time, even winning the 2010 European Championships.  However, the current model is not sustainable and Wales badly needs to encourage more people to play the game or it is in danger of being left behind. 

Spreading the Word

Although Touch was introduced to Cardiff in 1991 by Dave Swain and Paul Nepia, as recently as 2011 the only places you could play regular competitive Touch outside of Cardiff were Llanelli, Pontyclun, Swansea and Wrexham.  However, this is set to change with the 2012 partnership agreement between the WTA and Welsh Rugby Union which has seen Touch being introduced to new territories via the WRU’s 14 Participation Officers (PO).  Part of the PO remit is to run Touch leagues for adults and this has resulted in leagues starting out in Bridgend, Newport and Neath amongst others.  It won’t be long before some of these players are filtered through to regional teams and then national teams.  Since the formation of the Llanelli league in 2010, it has already produced two players that have played in the Touch World Cup and Touch European Championships.

In order for Touch to grow and flourish in Wales it is essential that the game is played in all areas of the country.  Obviously, Wales is a small country with a small population and we are not quite ready to target reaching the 500,000 registered members as Touch Football Australia is planning in their latest strategic plan.  The National Championships is a huge step in the right direction.  Coaching positions have been advertised for each of the six regions and it is hoped that there will be a men’s, women’s and mixed open team for each region.  The biggest challenge is that there will have to be active recruitment of players in regions that have little or no history of Touch being played competitively.  However, this is precisely why the championships are so important.  Once social league players realise that they could play at regional or even international level, the profile and status attached to the game will undoubtedly rise.  It stands to reason that the more people playing the game, the better standards will become, resulting in more competition for places in national teams.

West Wales

The west Wales region encompasses Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire and it is fair to say that the men’s open team will be made up almost entirely of Llanelli based players considering that is still the only active league in the region.

Finding women to make up the women’s and mixed west Wales regional team could prove to be difficult since there was no Llanelli mixed or women’s league in 2012.  However, attendance at the recent Wales national trials was extremely encouraging with a large female contigent.  Even more encouragingly, a number of them were selected for the Welsh prelim squads for the 2013 Home Nations Tournament in Dublin.  It just goes to show that there is great talent across the country, it’s just a matter of getting the structure right in order to develop it further.

The new regions will compete over the weekend of the 6th and 7th April (location will be announced soon).  Players are eligible to participate if they live in Wales or are otherwise eligible to represent Wales, and must be WTA members.  All current national squad members are to participate.

Regional qualification is primarily determined by residential address. For players not living in Wales, qualification is determined by birthplace.

Get Involved

Interested players and referees should complete the registration form and return it to gareth.revell@hotmail.co.uk.

Download – WTA Nationals Registration Form

The regions are as follows:

Regional Team Name Regional Boundaries
Bridgend/Neath/Swansea Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot & Swansea
Cardiff South & The Vale South Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan
Cardiff North & The Valleys Merthyr Tydfil, North Cardiff*, Powys (part – up to Welshpool) & RCT
Newport/Gwent Caerphilly, Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent
North Wales Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Powys (Part – down to Welshpool), Wrexham
West Wales Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion

*The A48 will act as the boundary in Cardiff

FILM – Wales Touch Trials

Wales Touch Association are holding trials during November.  11th Wrexham, 18th Llanelli, 25th Cardiff

Here’s a short presentation with some action pictures taking during the recent European Touch Championships in Treviso, Italy.  Wales sent over 200 players and officials in seven different playing categories to Italy; Mens, Women, Mixed, Mens 30+, Mens 35+, Mens 40+ and Senior Mixed.

Wales Touch are very keen to locate new players who could make the grade at the representative level.  2013 sees the Home Nations tournament in Dublin, in 2014 it’s the European Touch Championships and in 2015 the Touch World Cup will  be held in Sydney, Australia.

The trials are open, for trialists over the age of 15.  If you think that you might have what it takes, you can register and get further details from the WTA website – www.walestouch.co.uk

Wales Touch On Look Out For Future Internationals

Guest post by Gwion Kennard, Technical Director, Wales Touch Association

The Wales team at the European Championships 2012 Opening Ceremony in Treviso

The WTA will be holding trials during November 2012 for the Mixed, Men’s and Women’s Open and all of the Over 30s squads as we build towards the 2013 Home Nations, the 2014 European Championships and the 2015 World Cup.

The selectors will be looking for athletes who demonstrate the following:
1. Responsiveness to on-field and off-field instructions and feedback
2. Ball retention
3. Defensive workrate and communication
4. Yardage
5. Followship
6. Leadership
7. Skills & decision making – 2v1 & 3v2 proficiency, planting proficiency, etc.
8. Attacking skills – Set-up play / 1v1 skills / running lines

The trial will be primarily drills through use of grids with a small amount of game-time at the end rather than mostly-game based. We are looking for potential in players rather than those who are closer to the finished article.

The trials will be held on the following dates:

11th November – Wrexham Details TBA
18th November – Llanelli, Barn at Parc y Scarlets from 1pm to 5pm
25th November – Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan, Outdoor 4G pitch at The Vale Resort from 1pm to 5pm

Please send any expressions of interest to gwion@walestouch.co.uk to help our planning and so we can gauge the viability of the Wrexham trial in particular.
Please note, all current Touch internationals are expected to participate in the trial process if they wish to be considered for selection for the open and Over 30 squads in the 2013 Home Nations in Dublin. If you are unable to trial due to injury or unavailability for an extended period of time, please advise Gareth Revell at gareth.revell@hotmail.co.uk as the trials co-ordinator BEFORE THE TRIAL PROCESS BEGINS.
 

Those wishing to be considered for selection for the Over 35 & Over 40 squads are welcome to attend the trials as there is no age restriction, However an alternative selection process will be implemented for Masters players details of which will be provided soon.

Touch Rugby Hits the Beach at Pendine

2013 Update – Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August at Pendine – visit www.gorllewingwyllt.com/pendine to register

Wales Touch Association (WTA) announce that their flagship annual beach tournament will take place on Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th September 2012.

Touch Rugby (usually known simply as Touch) is based on the full contact Rugby League/Union but is a recognized sport in it’s own right.  It is widely popular in the southern hemisphere and is becoming increasingly popular in Wales with leagues and teams in Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Bridgend, RCT and Wrexham amongst others.

For the first time, the Pendine tournament will be delivered in conjunction with Cyffwrdd Gorllewin Gwyllt (Wild West Touch) formed earlier in 2012 in order to promote Touch in west Wales.

Gorllewin Gwyllt Director, Matthew Adams explains;

I’m really looking forward to being part of the Pendine tournament, having heard great things about it over the last 10 years.  We’re hoping to bring our local knowledge and expertise to the event and help inspire some of the locals to get involved.  We also aim to attract some of the teams already playing Touch in west Wales to play in Pendine for the first time.

The tournament takes place a couple of weeks after the conclusion of the European Touch Championships, so many of the players that have been representing their countries will be coming along to bring another season to a close in a social environment.  We’re also welcoming new players young and old to take part in our Family Touch Festival.

The Family Touch Festival is a chance for mums, dads, aunties, uncles and even grandparents to join their children and friends to form a team to play in a family tournament with qualified Touch coaches on hand to pass on their knowledge.  Touch is one of the very few teams sports where this can happen due to the minimal contact and very low risk of injury.

Another new addition to the event, now in it’s tenth year, is the schools tournament.  Opening the weekend on Friday 28th September, will be the 5×60 Carmarthenshire Secondary Schools Under 16 Tournament.  Boys and girls will take to the beach to compete, as Kate Williams, from Carmarthenshire’s Sports Development Unit explains;

‘We wanted the young people of Carmarthenshire to have the chance to experience playing in a mixed Touch tournament.  We’re expecting boys and girls from across the county to come together to represent their schools in mixed teams.  This is the first time we’ve run a mixed tournament, so all the players and staff are really looking forward to it.’

With many of the WTA players, coaches and officials present during the tournament, it’s possible that some new talent will be unearthed, WTA Development Director Matt Enoch elaborates;

We have already picked up two players that have represented Wales in the Touch World Cup and European Championships from the Llanelli module and we know that west Wales is a talent hot spot.  We’re on the look out for players that show potential who will be asked to join a development centre where we aim to produce future internationals.  Pendine will be a great place for players to show us what they can do.

The 2012 tournament will also be helping to celebrating the recent opening of the Wales Coast Path.  Pendine sits on part of the route between Amroth and Laugharne and Countryside Rangers will be offering visitors the chance to go on guided walks during the tournament.  As Countryside Access & Recreation Manager, Eirian James describes;

‘With the opening of the Wales Coast Path it is now possible to walk all the way along the stunningly beautiful Carmarthenshire Bay.  We’ll be offering visitors free guided walks throughout the tournament weekend so that they can sample some of the amazing views on offer.’

For those that don’t wish to play Touch there will be a number of other activities available, such as the guided walks, sand sculpture and the mobile climbing tower from Pendine Outdoor Education Centre.  The Centre will be open during the weekend and offer a wide variety of exciting activities such as climbing, high ropes, abseiling among others, as well as accommodation.  More details at www.pendineoutdoors.co.uk

Schedule:

Friday 28, 10am – 2pm – 5×60 Carmarthenshire Secondary Schools Under 16 Mixed Tournament

Saturday 29, 10am – 4pm (approx) – Men’s Open and Women’s Open competitions

Sunday 30 10am – 4pm (approx) – Mixed Open competition and Family Touch Festival

For further information about Touch and Pendine registration details, go to www.gorllewingwyllt.com or www.facebook.com/wildwesttouch

Contacts:

Matt Adams (Gorllewin Gwyllt) – 07966 235450 matt@gorllewingwyllt.com

Matt Enoch (WTA) – 07983 620962 matthew.enoch@wales.gsi.gov.uk

Gethin Williams (Pendine OEC) – 01994 453659 gjwilliams@sirgar.gov.uk

Wales Champions League Announced

Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch and Wales Touch Association announce a brand new invitational tournament for the best teams from Wales’ emerging leagues to take place in Llanelli on Sunday 19th August 2012. 

The top teams from Llanelli, Swansea, North Wales, Rhondda Cynon Tâf , plus two invitational Cardiff teams will battle it out to become the Wales Champions League winners.

The traditional base of Touch in Wales has very much been centred around Cardiff, with a Touch league established in 1991, still going strong.  But that’s set to change with the arrival of the game in some new territories in recent times.

North Wales Touch in Wrexham and RCT Touch in Pontyclun have been playing the game for the last few years, but it was only in 2010 that the game arrived in Llanelli with the establishing of Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch by the Carmarthenshire County Council Sport Development Unit.  This was quickly followed in 2011 by a league held at South Gower RFC and in 2012 by leagues started by the Ospreys Participation Officers in Neath and on the Swansea University playing fields.

Read more about playing Touch in west Wales

In 2012, the time was right to hold a tournament to allow the best teams from each of the five areas to compete against each other.  As it turns out, this will be a major turning point for the development of the game in Wales.  There has never been a inter-regional championship tournament in Wales, so this will be a first.

The pick of Wales’ premier teams are based around the Cardiff Touch stronghold and some of them travel outside of Wales in order to play at an elite level, including teams such as the Durkas and Raptors.

Cardiff Raptors – playing at Lilleshall in the NTS Finals 2012

Across the border, England Touch has already established a national competition with a series of tournaments in various venues across England, such as Cambridge, Nottingham, Newcastle and London with teams such as Manchester Chargers, Hot Custard and Galaxy London competing.  There are two tiers to the series; the elite, National Touch Series and the Challenge Touch Series for second-tier teams.  The aim in Wales would be to create a similar series of ranking tournaments to ensure that the standard of the game improves.  This is something that Wales Touch Association is working towards, but Wales is still way behind in it’s development of the game in comparison to the number 1 ranked nation, Australia.

The National Touch League (NTL) is a major event on the Australian sporting calendar.

In Australia, the National Touch League, is the premier national tournament which allows the best teams from across the country to compete against each other to find national champions in 12 different categories.

It is this bringing together of the elite teams from across the country to compete which makes Australian national teams so strong.  There are approximately 250,000 registered Touch players, plus another 100,000 social players in Australia.  Not to mention the 500,000 school players that regularly compete in the game!

In Wales around 90-95% of national players play in the Cardiff leagues meaning that there is not a truly representative national team – more like a Cardiff regional team. Considering Wales is the reigning European overall champions, imagine what could be possible if more people started playing the game in other areas!

The Wales Champions League is undoubtedly a step in the right direction with the opportunity for teams to compete at a higher level, as well as the status and bragging rights and an opportunity to shine in front of national coaches and WTA officials.

The Llanelli contingent will be made up of the top four teams in this year’s competition; Gower Dragons, Y Mellt, Orangutans and Y Genhedlaeth Nesaf.  Other invited teams have not yet be revealed, but it is likely to include four teams from Ospreys Touch, one team from North Wales Touch, two from RCT Touch and two from Cardiff’s Touch Rugby Wales league.

It all takes place at the home of Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch, Ysgol Gyfun Y Strade, Sandy Road, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA15 4DL on Sunday 19th August 2012.  Whilst it is only open to invited teams, spectators are welcome to come and cheer the teams on.  Please contact should you require further details.

Dragons Tighten Grip / Dreigiau yn Tynhau Gafael

Gower Dragons take the spoils against another of their closest rivals to stay on top.   No Dropped Balls get their first win of CSGT12 with an outstanding victory over the Friendly Rivals.  Y Genhedlaeth Nesaf and Once Were Athletic both vie for the final Play Off position.  

Because of one of the wettest summers on record, we were forced to play two rounds of Touch in one evening in order to catch up on the games.  The season is reaching it’s climax with only one game remaining for eight out of the ten teams and it’s nail-bitingly close at the top of the table.

Last week they ended the Orangutans three-year unbeaten record, this time it’s Y Mellt whose winning streak comes to an end at the hands of the Gower Dragons.

Gower are now the only unbeaten team left in the competition with an outstanding 5-4 win against Y Mellt.  It was Y Mellt that started the evening strongly with a 6-3 victory over play-off hopefuls, Once Were Athletic, whilst the Dragons powerfully overcame the Friendly Rivals with a 9-2 win.  However, Y Mellt could not overcome the Dragons in the second game of the evening, meaning that the Dragon’s 100% record continues.

Looking to be involved in the end of season Play Offs, Y Genhedlaeth Nesaf’s defence held firm to withstand a come-back from youngsters, Hyrddod yr Hendy in a very close game – YGN eventually winning 5 scores to 4.  And it was more of the same from Y Genhedlaeth with a convincing win over Charlie’s Angels, 12-0 – a scoreline that  helps their points scored tally no end.

And it is only because of their superior score difference that Y Genhedlaeth Nesaf are currently in the fourth and final play-off spot.  Once Were Athletic are biting at their heels though, also on 16 points, but it is YGN five extra scores during the season that are keeping them on top at the moment.  They also hold a game in hand over Once Were Athletic, but they must overcome Y Mellt in a re-arranged fixture in order to benefit from this advantage.

In fact, Once Were Athletic had a very tough evening, having to play the second placed Orangutans and third placed, Y Mellt on the same evening.  Whilst not managing to pick up a victory, they performed admirably and could still be a good bet for making the play-offs this year.

No Dropped Balls finally come good and have an excellent evening winning both of their games.  The first game is a truly fantastic win against Friendly Rivals – 7-6 and they follow that up with a 3-0 victory over Charlie’s Angels.  These two wins see them leapfrog up the table in to seventh place and they could climb further with a win in their final game of CSGT12.

Hyrddod yr Hendy bounced back from their close loss against Y Genhedlaeth Nesaf, with a close win against Lookilikies – eventually coming out 4-3 winners.  And Lookilikies went on to lose their second game, giving the Orangutans a very close run for their money, losing only 7 scores to 9 against the winners of both CSGT10 and CSGT11.

All in all, another great night of Touch in this year’s CSGT12 and it really is too close to call a winner.  It looks like the Gower Dragons, Orangutans and Y Mellt have secured their Play Off places, with either Y Genhedlaeth Nesaf or Once Were Athletic taking the final spot.

Remember there are no games this Wednesday 18th July – final league games to take place on Wednesday 25th July.