Cymru manager Gemma Grainger and midfielder Rachel Rowe recently spent time out in the Welsh football community as the side prepare to welcome fans back to the stadium for their upcoming 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign.
2023 FIFA Women's World Cup
Cymru v Kazakhstan
- 19:15 Friday 17 September
- Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
- Tickets available here
“I've been desperate to get out into the community,” explained Grainger to FAW.cymru. “Part of the legacy that myself and the players want to leave is how we inspire and positively affect people, and this allows you get to meet the next generation. It meant so much to me as I absolutely love going out and meeting people. I love coaching the kids too, I sometimes prefer it to coaching adults!”
Grainger and Rowe helped coach a Huddle session at CPD Evans & Williams AFC in Llanelli before heading to Pontardawe Juniors where they joined Cymru coach Loren Dykes for a training session with the club coaches. “They are the players and the coaches of the future and the people who will be supporting us, so it's important to show them that anything is possible,” Grainger added.
“From a female role model point of view it's important to get out there and my plan is to cover as much of the country as I can. I want to help build and inspire, and for people to have that connection with the squad and know that they have a national team to be proud of.”
The opening match of the campaign takes place on Friday, 17 September, as Cymru host Kazakhstan at Parc-y-Scarlets in Llanelli. It will be the first competitive match since Grainger's appointment in March, but challenge matches against Canada, Denmark and Scotland over the course of the last few months have provided vital preparation for the new manager and her squad.
But while Grainger and her players are focused on the next campaign, getting out and building relationships with the Welsh football public after being unable to do so through the pandemic has been an important part of the job, especially as fans will be returning to the stadium for the opening match.
“I can't wait to do more of it,” Grainger added. “The last 18 months have been tough for so many people in so many different ways, so for myself and the team to get out and meet as many people as we can and to have that connection with people through football is something that I've missed.
“The fans give us an advantage. I know how important their support is to me, the staff and the players. They give you that extra edge. We want to do it for them and to make the country proud, so to have the fans with us will certainly make us stronger. So I'm really excited to have as many fans as we can in there to support the team.”
Meanwhile, Grainger was also keen to praise the performance of the Cymru WU17 side following their 1-1 draw against England at St. George's Park recently. “One of the things we talked about when I came into the post was about aligning the intermediate teams with the senior team,” she explained. “Loren (Dykes) did a fantastic job with the players and the staff and that integration is really positive.
“I think in terms of the intermediate teams and senior team alignment, that game was a indication of how our youth teams have got to play a higher-ranked opposition, so that mentality is set throughout the teams. It means that we're going to learn everything we need to. The U17's is a development age group so their outcomes are very different to what the senior team want to be exposed to, but that result was fantastic for the staff and the players.”
Tickets for the Kazakhstan match begin are £2 kids/£4 adults on group bookings and £4 kids/£8 adults on individual bookings, while there is also discount available for Red Wall members. The group booking form is available as a PDF or Word document, while individual tickets can be purchased at faw.cymru/tickets.