A football team in the Rhondda Valleys fears it could be forced to fold because it can’t get enough players.
Tonyrefail Welfare AFC has been one a key hub of the local the community since it was formed almost 100 years ago.
As well as giving the village a sense of sporting pride, it has also been a place for players and spectators to socialise – both pre and post match. Like many local clubs, The Welfare Park side has not been able to many matches since the coronavirus pandemic began.
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But now with restrictions eased, the team faces not playing any games next season at all because of a lack of players.
Committee member Fraser Williams said: “When we finished our season in 2020, we probably had about 35 players registered and we have no one registered at the minute simply because we haven’t had enough to warrant putting the money into the register. We have probably seven players committed right now, which obviously is nowhere near enough.”
Mr Williams, who took over the club two and a half years ago, and said the Covid situation affected the squad – and their season got cancelled in early 2020.
He said: “A lot of the players just simply lost interest. You know, they found other things to do, shopping on the weekends for their girlfriends, and different things.
“People have lost fitness, myself included and trying to get back into it has been a real struggle.
“We have been so short to players that we’ve just continually called training off and calling games off. I think we’ve only played one game in the not many months we’ve had.”
Although now plying their trade in the Devonalds Solicitors Rhondda & District Championship, which is in the eigth tier of the Welsh football pyramid, the club has a proud history since it formed in 1925.
Most of their success came in the 1950s and 1960s, when they played in the South Wales Amateur League – which included their 1951 title win. They were also runners up in the South Wales Senior Cup in 1954, 1967 and 1969.
Mr Williams said: “When I was younger, we all used to walk home passing the ground and we’d all go in and watch them pay as well. They were really well known.”
He has since put out an appeal on social media – which has been met with an impressive response.
Mr Williams added: “I did a tiny post on Facebook off my personal profile, just looking at players and I managed to get two players from the local area to come along. I decided to tweet as well and It’s got 600 retweets and nearly 500 likes. I think I’ve had 30-40 inboxes, countless comments. People texted me and phoned me. It’s a bit of a whirlwind.
“At least 20 have said yes so far, they will be there. And you know, I’m not, I’m not naïve enough to think that all 20 will turn up. So if 10 of those turned up, I’d be happy.”
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