Faces of Football: Wales


Dear Wales,

My name is Roopa and I am a 25 year old passionate Red Wall supporter preparing for her very first World Cup experience.

I still haven’t realized what we’ve achieved. Led by our hero from Rhondda, Rob Page brought little Wales to the big stage for the world to see. I don’t know how you all feel, but I’ve been on cloud nine since the play-off final in June.

Our nation has been waiting 64 years for this moment to happen again. A whole life for me and so many others. The feeling is indescribable. I’m sure the feeling in the dressing room is the same because we’re all the same when it comes to pride in our country. Our Cymru.

I grew up learning that Wales weren’t good at football and rugby was our national sport. As a football fan, I was personally offended by this. Oh, how that has changed. Thanks to the legacy of the late Gary Speed, you reached the Euros in 2016, a tournament I will never forget.

I didn’t have the chance to go to France, but the atmosphere and the effervescence which reigned at home were truly extraordinary. Cymru has succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations – including mine – in this tournament, Welsh style, and there’s no saying it can’t happen again. You have all helped to bring Welsh football to the fore in our country and to make football the number one sport in Wales. I want to thank you all for that. Many have played a vital role in this journey before you, but the bond that now unites the national team and the Red Wall is truly incredible. As a football fan I have often felt a disconnect between players and fans, but when it comes to Wales we are one and stronger together.

The heroes in the limelight, including Gareth Bale and Caerphilly’s best player, Aaron Ramsey, all deserve kudos, but each of you deserves kudos too. This tournament will not only benefit the sport in our country, but also our nation as a whole. We used to be the underdogs in many areas, especially in sports, but that works in our favor. The humble approach has worked for us so far and I hope it will continue to be instilled in our team.

Our squad for the World Cup doesn’t look intimidating at all, I’m optimistic about our chances, but as people have done with Wales in previous tournaments, I know not to draw a line. trait on teams too soon. As a nation, the goal is to get out of the group. My main expectation is to show our neighbors (England) what we are really capable of – that is the only favor I will ask!

Anything more will be a bonus and you will be welcomed home as a hero, but please bring the trophy with you! I’m pretty sure we should have a national month of celebration if that happens.

As for my plans for the World Cup, there’s so much going on in Wales that I’m spoiled for choice! I’ll be watching the first two group games with the other Red Wall members in Cardiff, before packing my bags and joining you in Doha for the match against England. I am very grateful to share this experience with my brother. We are supporters of rival clubs, but we come together to share moments like this and celebrate being Welsh.

For those of you for whom this will be « the last dance », it is an opportunity to build on the legacy you have created – the ’22 Spirit. We are fortunate to have so many young talents in our small nation and we have already seen a few rising stars show their worth including Brennan Johnson, Neco Williams and Harry Wilson. I’m sure Rob has a lot to think about before he selects the team to fly to Doha, but it goes without saying that you all are instrumental in the success of our national team, whether on the field with incredible assists or free kicks, or off the field with the motivation and training of others.

Yma O Hyd. Still there. The anthem that solidified the bond between the Football Association of Wales and the Red Wall and carried us through qualifying matches and play-offs to this climax. We are now so close to that first kick-off where the eyes of the world will be on Wales. Some may only be hearing about us for the first time, so let’s show the world what Wales is all about.

Pob lwc to the entire team and management staff and congratulations to all of you for this incredible achievement. Fe godwn ni eto.

Roopa Vyas

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