The Collaborative Sports Facilities Group

2. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice – in the Senedd at on 22 May 2024.

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Photo of Buffy Williams Buffy Williams Labour


1. Will the Cabinet Secretary provide an update on funding for the collaborative sports facilities group? OQ61132

Photo of Lesley Griffiths Lesley Griffiths Labour 2:18, 22 May 2024

The Welsh Government has maintained capital funding for Sport Wales at £8 million in 2024-25. The artificial turf pitch collaboration group and the court collaboration group determine successful projects following an application process.

Photo of Buffy Williams Buffy Williams Labour

Thanks to Cameron Winnett and Keiron Assiratti, Rhondda has a growing number of rugby players reaching regional and international level. Last weekend, both Ferndale and Wattstown won their mid district finals respectively. Our women's and girls teams are also going from strength to strength, with hundreds of girls training with the Rhondda Miners, Penygraig and Treorchy. With the volume of rugby being played and at such a high standard, we're desperate in the Rhondda for a World Rugby-accredited 3G pitch with a shock pad. Meetings have been taking place recently, with a unique site identified at Coleg y Cymoedd that is already home to excellent training and playing facilities. It also has a library that can be utilised by players, parents and spectators to undertake qualifications, awareness-raising sessions and homework clubs. Partners are working tirelessly to make this a reality, but there is currently a shortfall in funding. I understand that front-line services must be protected during the cost-of-living crisis, but is the Cabinet Secretary aware of any potential funding opportunities for this site? Will she ensure the collaboration unit's budget is protected in the future? And does she agree with me that community sport can play a key role in reaching social justice?

Photo of Lesley Griffiths Lesley Griffiths Labour 2:19, 22 May 2024

Thank you. I absolutely agree with you on that last point, and that's why I'm so pleased that culture, which obviously includes sport, and social justice have been put together in one portfolio, because I absolutely agree with you that it does play a key role. I'm very happy to congratulate both Ferndale RFC and Wattstown RFC on their recent achievements. It's another sport, but yesterday I met with the Football Association of Wales and we were talking about Wattstown from a football perspective, so clearly there's a lot going on in your constituency.

I think it's really good to hear about the very positive strides that have been taken around women and girls playing rugby. I would like that to continue very much at every level, but certainly at a community level. Investing in sporting facilities is a key commitment of ours in our programme for government. Whilst we do have budget pressures, of course, we did maintain the budget, as I said in my original answer to you, at £8 million for capital for Sport Wales. They are responsible for setting their own internal budgets, and I know they've allocated £1 million to the artificial turf pitch collaboration group and £0.5 million to the court collaboration group for this financial year.

You mentioned Coleg y Cymoedd. The provision of a 3G facility in the Rhondda, which is a priority for the WRU, has been identified as a potential solution for this. I understand the application wasn't ready to be submitted within the current year's deadline—that's now passed—but I think it's really important that all parties come together now to work towards submitting the application for the project in the next financial year.

Photo of James Evans James Evans Conservative 2:21, 22 May 2024

Cabinet Secretary, I recently visited the Battle Back Centre with the cross-party group on the armed forces. That centre does fantastic work supporting veterans in their recovery journey. Since the centre opened, it has helped 5,500 wounded, injured and sick service personnel with their recovery journey due to sport and recreation. That's how they actually get people back to be recovered to full fitness. They also do a lot of work with co-ordinating the Invictus Games, and I'm pleased to say that there's a lot of interest from serving Welsh personnel in entering the Invictus Games—something that's really, really positive. During our visit, we discussed the possibility of launching an accreditation scheme for sports clubs to become armed forces and veterans friendly. This scheme would encourage clubs to create a welcome and supportive collaborative environment for our veterans in our community. Cabinet Secretary, given your commitment to our armed forces and to sport, would you be willing to meet with me, Darren Millar and the Battle Back Centre to see how we can get this accreditation scheme off the ground to really make that welcoming environment for our service personnel in our sports clubs across Wales?

Photo of Lesley Griffiths Lesley Griffiths Labour 2:22, 22 May 2024

Thank you. Yes, I'd certainly be very happy to meet with you to discuss. We do have some armed forces-specific sport schemes. As you know, we've got our free swimming scheme, for instance; that continues to provide local authorities with the funding to enable our veterans to have free access, and serving members of the armed forces as well. I think that scheme has really grown in popularity over the years, and I know that other sports are also increasing their specific offers to the armed forces and veterans community. I recently met with Tennis Wales, and they were talking about their offers as well. There's also the Blue Light Cycling Club. But you mentioned something very specific, and I'm very happy to look at innovative ways in which we can help both our armed forces and our veterans communities.