Caerau Ely AFC have been nationally recognised (Credit: Samuel Brett)

Caerau Ely AFC named Welsh Community Club of the Year

Club beats 500 others at the Football Association of Wales Grassroots Football Awards 2020.

Caerau Ely Football club has been named FAW Community Club of the Year in an internet-streamed awards ceremony.

The award comes just four and-a-half years after the minis and juniors’ club was founded by Gareth West, 42, who identified a lack of opportunity for children in the area.

The club was recognised for its exceptional involvement in the local community out of 502 junior football clubs listed on the FAW’s website.

Mr West said: “We want to thank all our volunteers, coaches and community partners because without them this would not have been possible. We try and get involved in anything locally that will add value to the community.”

In 2016, Caerau Ely AFC consisted of a men’s 1st and reserve team. Today, the club runs sessions for almost every age group, females of any age, children with disabilities, veterans, minority groups, walking football sessions for people with limited mobility and free community sessions every week.

“It’s about breaking down barriers and making it possible for people to join in,” Mr West said. “We would never turn a child down based on financial circumstances.”

One of the club’s free community sessions (Credit: Samuel Brett)

Members of Caerau and Ely community have praised the club for its achievment. Caerau Councillor Peter Bradbury, who is also a parent at the club, added his congratulations:

“This is a terrific vindication of the work that Gareth West and the people of Caerau Ely Football Club juniors do. This is a huge honour, especially for a Cardiff based club and I’m very proud for my son to play at such a great club,” he said.

“I hope this award will be a catalyst for more people to get involved.”

The FAW prize was awarded to Mr West by Welsh women’s international Elise Hughes via video-link. Mr West said championing women’s football was imperative to the club’s continued development:

“We’re not far off having a complete minis and juniors’ section, but we want to grow the female side to get parity. We want as many girls playing as we’ve got males,” said Mr West.

Caerau Ely girls’ team is currently coached by Nana Baah – a former manager of Caerau Ely 1st team who won the Welsh Football first division with the side.

Caerau Ely AFC are living up to their pitchside slogan (Credit: Samuel Brett)

As well as expanding women’s football, Caerau Ely AFC will soon be starting a youth reparations team in collaboration with Caerau Ely Rugby Club. The programme will place young offenders in playing and coaching roles.

Mr West said: “These are young people who have lost their way. Ordinarily they would be given community hours litter picking, but his time they’ll be put into clubs to do something they can enjoy. We will be mentoring them to try and change their mindset and help them to see the value of being part of the community rather than offending in it.”

If you would like to get involved at Caerau Ely Minis and Juniors Football Club, you can reach them on Facebook at Caerau Ely FC Juniors or on their website here.