“I think we have exciting times ahead of us,” explained new FAW President Steve Williams to FAW.cymru. “As a nation, now people talk about Wales, and I want to take that to that next level.”
A keen football administrator since he became secretary of his local club Cefn Albion at the age of just 18 back in the early 1980's, Williams has always displayed a passion for seeing the game in Wales progress at all levels. However, while his personal ambition to reach the top has now been realised, his desire to use his influence to the benefit of Welsh football has never been stronger.
“I'm immensely proud,” said Williams. “From a personal point of view, I'm absolutely delighted. If my father was still alive it would be something that he would have been made-up about because it was a conversation that we had as soon as I got on the FAW. I wish my father was here but sadly he's not, but I'm sure he's looking down with immense pride as well.”
Brought up in the Wrexham village of Cefn Mawr, Williams, 57, played an instrumental role in Cefn Albion's merger with Druids United to form current JD Cymru Premier club Cefn Druids in 1992. His early introduction into Welsh football politics and administration served him well, and his talent was identified early on by former FAW Councillor Jack Evans who helped him develop his own pathway that would see him elected onto the FAW Council in 1997 at the age of just 33. His subsequent work as secretary of the Cymru Alliance ensured that clubs in the area successfully achieved targeted projects, with his dedication to the domestic game earning him well-deserved respect across Wales.
“I don't want to be a President who is just sat here waiting for the phone to ring,” Williams added. “I want to be involved and engaged in it. I think it's imperative that myself and Noel (new CEO, Noel Mooney) work with each other and sing off the same hymn sheet, and I can be eyes and ears in the north. I know I'm going to be different than previous Presidents and I will be very hands on and open with our senior members of staff. I think that's a key thing in a working relationship, and we must develop an openness within the association.”
Williams spent his professional life in the aerospace industry, starting out as an apprentice engineer before progressing through to becoming a senior production manager before he retired at the age of 55. “I've only recently retired from a senior management position that required modern-day management skills which is the way of the future now,” he explained. “We've got quite a few challenges ahead both at international level and in the domestic game as we've been cash-starved because of the pandemic. We need to engage with people and I'm keen on that, as football in Wales starts with grassroots.
“The more that we can achieve at senior level the more that we can invest at a lower level, but we need those volunteers at our clubs. We want to keep on pushing the U17 and U19's, both male and female, and on top of that our own domestic game. I want to see the JD Cymru Premier move forward and I want to see the teams get stronger and make progress in Europe. For me, it's about being engaged and supportive, and trying to keep everyone on their toes to take us to the next level in everything that we're doing.”
Williams worked closely with the late Gary Speed during his time as chair of the international committee, and was instrumental in the development and construction of Colliers Park. However, the future is very much the focus for Williams now as he begins his new role, with the return to competitive action for the men's and women's teams in September the immediate challenge.
“The World Cup in 2022 is the next tournament for us,” he added. “We all want to get there as I want to see us qualifying regularly for major tournaments. We need to make sure now that we're involved in these finals, because that will keep increasing our profile and our bank-balance for us to reinvest in our infrastructure. The same applies to the women's game as that is developing at pace and I'm going to be equally supportive of Gemma Grainger and her staff. I've had a conversation with David Adams (FAW Technical Director) and I want to be hands on with everything that we do.”