The Welsh football fans changing the lives of kids around the world
When Welsh football fans Tim Hartley and Neil Dymock visited Baku 19 years ago to watch Wales play Azerbaijan in the Euro 2004 qualifiers, an encounter with a local street child sparked an idea.
They wanted to provide a way for other Wales fans to support disadvantaged young people through fundraising and donations, helping local charities wherever the national side play.
This idea went on to become Gôl Cymru, which over the last two decades has helped hundreds of children around the world; with volunteers visiting children’s homes and hospitals, from New York to Tbilisi, donating money, gifts and running coaching sessions in more than 40 countries.
And when Wales are playing on home turf, the Gôl team has brought under-privileged children from across the world over to visit Wales and attend the games, organising cultural trips – from castles to coastline.
Gôl Cymru’s work has raised the profile of Welsh football supporters internationally and helped to tackle stereotypes about football fans. The team of volunteers is determined to make a difference and support communities, wherever the Red Wall goes. Their work also puts Wales’ culture, countryside and people on a global stage – showcasing Cymru as a beautiful place to visit.
Even amid the pandemic, the postponement of the 2020 Euros didn’t stop Gôl’s fundraising efforts. Fans kept busy in lockdown, raising money by signing up to run or walk the distance to Azerbaijan, on to Rome and back home to Wales; the journey they should have taken to see Wales play. Together, fans travelled 11,291 miles and raised £3,450 for charities across the UK, Ireland and Bulgaria.
Fittingly, despite the Covid restrictions of Euro 2020 staged earlier this summer, Gôl Cymru, returned to Azerbaijan, the country where it all began. This time, they visited a centre for street children and a social enterprise chocolate shop set up to raise funds for their work; a fitting return to the charity’s spiritual home to reflect on two decades of doing good.
But their work never stops as long as Wales Away are on the road. And this weekend it’s Prague and Tallinn calling for Gôl Cymru,
Wales fans are looking forward to supporting our national team again in numbers as the World Cup qualification campaign continues – and with it the supporters’ charity will be back in action raising money for children’s causes in the Czech Republic and Estonia.
Gôl Cymru is making donations in both cities where Wales are playing. In Prague they are supporting Raptors FC, a community team made up of dozens of nationalities, which works with different partners to combat discrimination in football. It also makes donations to help disadvantaged children and those who may be suffering from malnutrition and poverty.
Daz Moss, President of Prague Raptors FC said: “One of the first charities we started working with was Brave Bear, an amazing organisation who help kids in all kinds of horrible situations in eastern Czech Republic. Last month we had a group of teenagers from their home attend our academy sessions and share their stories with us over dinner. It was a very humbling experience.
“They are great kids and have had a lot to deal with in their lives already – they are a perfect candidate for the very generous donation from Gôl Cymru.”
The Gôl Cymru team then moves on to Tallinn where the fans will be making a donation to Igale Lapsele Pere which offers advice and support to children in an adopted, guardian or foster family and who may have experienced trauma or the loss of the most important primary contact in their lives.
Jane Snaith from Igale Lapsele Pere said: “It is wonderful to see how social responsibility in any society grows. Children left without parental care need a lot of support from their new family to be able to play even the simplest games.
“It is good for them to have the opportunity of having a new family to replace broken or lost families. We are so grateful for these thoughts from your team.”
Tom Griffiths from Gôl Cymru said: ‘Wales fans have once again been very busy raising money, organising pre-match fundraising parties in Prague and Tallinn for the fans. It’s great to be able to help disadvantaged children wherever and whenever Wales play.”
Find out more about the work of Gôl Cymru HERE
You can donate to Gôl Cymru HERE