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The Welsh choir lighting up Qatar with rousing World Cup songs

24 Nov 2022 5 minute read
The Urdd Youth Choir in Doha, Qatar, during the FIFA World Cup 2022. Picture by PA

Bronwen Weatherby

A Welsh choir has been drawing attention at the World Cup in Qatar by singing the country’s rousing anthem at locations across Doha including on the city’s underground rail network.

The Urdd Youth Choir, made up of young men and women from the Vale of Clwyd in North Wales, are visiting the Gulf state as part of a delegation to promote the Welsh culture and language.

Since being spotted belting out ballads and hymns everywhere from the British Embassy to the waterfront area known as the Corniche, the group has become a hit with local Qataris and international fans alike.

Videos show the vocalists entertaining passengers on-board the Metro, and on Wednesday they also performed in the amphitheatre at the Katara Cultural Village.

Wales’ national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, was sung for the first time ever at a World Cup during the Wales v USA game on Monday – the last time the nation qualified for the competition, in 1958, God Save the Queen was sung.

Although a disappointing first half led to the team securing a 1-1 draw against Group B opponents, the players and fans were praised globally for the passion and singing they displayed before the clash.

Touted as the stand-out song of the World Cup, the song’s title translates in English as Land of My Fathers and was written in 1856 by a father and son, Evan and James James, from Pontypridd, South Wales, who composed it as a declaration of love and loyalty to Wales.

“This has been the most amazing opportunity to promote Wales and our language on a global platform,” choir conductor and solicitor Ceri Roberts told PA news agency.

“The reaction we are getting from people, especially after the first game, is so special.

“We’re getting stopped in the streets all the time by people asking to have pictures with us and when we sing everyone starts filming.

“I feel like we’re really helping put Wales on the map,” she added.

Ceri Roberts from the Urdd Youth Choir in Doha, Qatar, during the FIFA World Cup 2022. Picture by PA


The 26-year-old founded the choir along with Elis Jones, also 26, from Ruthin, Denbighshire, after they returned to their home towns from university and found there was a lack of groups for people their age.

It now contains 11 men and 16 women from diverse backgrounds including farmers, lawyers and surveyors.

Welsh teacher Mared Owen, 24, said: “Usually, you wouldn’t find all these different people mixing with each other on a weekly basis, but we’re united by the choir.

“It’s this unity and inclusivity that we want to get across to people as our values when we sing.”


The choir will be joined by singer Dafydd Iwan and supporters’ brass band, The Barry Horns, at a giant bucket hat installation in Doha on Friday morning to rally together fans ahead of the match against Iran.

The larger-than-life model located near the city’s Museum of Islamic Art is a nod to what has become the informal uniform of Wales fans, who refer to themselves as the Red Wall.

Iwan’s decades old tune, Yma o Hyd, was chosen as the Football Association of Wales’ official World Cup song.

Sian Lewis, the head of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, said the youth organisation had also been running sports, arts and cultural workshops with school children across Qatar in the week running up to the World Cup.

“Even though the children didn’t really know anything about Wales initially, the feedback we got from teachers and parents was that the children got home and were singing Yma o Hyd and teaching their mums and dads a bit of Welsh.

“For a week of engagement that’s pretty powerful.”

“We purposefully brought our young female ambassadors with us who usually deliver a programme back home called Fel Merch, or Like a Girl, that empowers girls to take part in sport, and at the end of the session some of the girls in the class stayed behind and asked them what it meant,” Ms Lewis added.

“After they explained the young girls simply said, ‘we want to be like you’.

“That almost brought some of our young ambassadors to tears because it showed the impact of what we were doing.

“Our girls will never forget those conversations and I don’t think the young Qataris will either.”

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