Football festival kicks off in Wrexham ahead of World Cup
The three-day event from November 11-13 will see film premieres, music gigs and talks with football greats held at Wrexham Glyndwr University and other venues across the city.
There will be regular live streams from the Wales squad HQ with manager Rob Page and special guests.
Organisers have said while there will be a focus on Wales’ success in qualifying for the 2022 tournament – the first time in 64 years – fans of all national teams will be welcome.
It is hoped England fans will be tempted across the border by big names including Liverpool great Ian Rush and Everton favourite Neville Southall, who will present a new film about his journey from star footballer to social activist.
TV presenter Adrian Chiles will interview The Guardian’s David Conn about his book The Fall Of The House Of Fifa and his reporting of the Hillsborough disaster.
Brian Flynn will also join Rush for the screening of producer and actor Jonny Owen’s new film World Cup Giants.
Others set to make an appearance include former Welsh international Robert Earnshaw.
There are expected to be guests from Germany, Spain, Turkey and the USA.
Force for good
The aim of the festival, according to the organisers, is to connect all types of fans and show how football “can be a force for social good”.
“This is a festival made by Welsh fans but is very outward-looking,” festival director Dave Evans told PA news agency.
“We’re very much hoping that England fans will want to take part.
“This is exactly the sort of event that me and my mates would want to attend as football fans.
“And as many fans have decided not to travel to Qatar for the World Cup this year, whether that’s because of financial reasons or they feel uncomfortable going, this can be a place they can come and soak up that World Cup atmosphere.”
He added: “The debate around the World Cup will be discussed in various talks, there are differing opinions and I think it’s only right that a football festival be a forum for that.
“I have to say the FAW (Football Association of Wales) have been very good and have allowed us to have that space to create a festival where all voices are heard.”
The event has teamed up with mental health charity Mind Cymru, which will be leading a number of workshops.
This Fan Girl will be running a session to celebrate the ability of football to empower women and non-binary people.
A live football match will also be held in association with the festival between Bellevue Football Club, a local fully inclusive team, and members of the Alternative Wales podcast.
Mr Evans said they have committed to holding the festival in Wrexham for the next three years.
“This is a city steeped in football history and lore and we hope to create an event that will bring fans and fan culture from all over the world to Wrexham for three days in November,” he said.
“I think there’s an appetite for football culture that means the festival will grow in popularity year after year.
“Next year we’re looking at doing something around the Women’s World Cup.”
Often seen as the spiritual home of Welsh football, Wrexham lays claim to one of the oldest football teams in the world.
Wrexham AFC has received international attention in recent months after Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought the club and released a documentary about their takeover, Welcome To Wrexham, on streaming platform Disney+.
As well as food, drink and shop stalls to look around, there will also be music to enjoy from the likes of Gruff Rhys, Adwaith, Sage Todz and CHROMA.
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