The president of the Football Association of Wales (FAW), Trefor Lloyd Hughes, has visited the House of European Football in Nyon.
Mr Hughes, president of the Welsh association since August 2012, met UEFA President Michel Platini and senior UEFA administration members for talks on the relationship between the European body and the FAW, in particular under the UEFA HatTrick assistance scheme and women's football development programme (WFDP).
Wales, a UEFA member since 1954, is preparing to be the focal point for two major European football events in the coming period. The 2012/13 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship final tournament will take place in the south-west of the country between 19 and 31 August this year. Then, in 2014, the UEFA Super Cup match between the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League winners will be staged at Cardiff City Stadium.
Founded in 1876, the FA of Wales has been a proud and distinguished member of Europe's footballing family. Great Welsh players have performed with distinction on the world stage, including John Charles, who became an idol in Italy; Ian Rush, a feared goalscorer for Liverpool FC; and Ryan Giggs, who won the UEFA Champions League with Manchester United FC in 1999 and 2008.
The opening of a new national development centre in Newport in April will hopefully prove the catalyst for a new generation of talents to follow in the footsteps of Tottenham Hotspur FC's brilliant frontrunner Gareth Bale – a Welshman currently making his name at the highest levels.
"It's a great honour for any person to meet the President of UEFA," Mr Hughes told UEFA.com. "From a young age, I admired Michel Platini as a player and it's good to be here to talk football with him.
"The subjects we have discussed have been right across the board and I am pleased about this," he added. "We have discussed the development of the game, the future of the game, and how Wales can help this if possible."
Mr Hughes welcomed UEFA's aid to the Welsh association in both sporting and infrastructure terms. "We're a very small football nation," he remarked, while also emphasising Wales's big heart and Celtic fire – reflected in the Welsh dragon on the national flag. "If we didn't have the help of UEFA, we would have more difficulty. I think the way that UEFA has worked with us has been absolutely tremendous."
The FAW can approach the future with confidence, especially with the national development centre opening its doors this spring. "This is a big step forward," said Mr Hughes, "and it has been made possible with the help of UEFA. Then we host the [European] Women's Under-19 Championship and the [UEFA] Super Cup, which is an absolutely fantastic honour for Wales."
Trefor Lloyd Hughes began his football life with his local village team Bodedern FC on the island of Anglesey, and held a variety of administrative posts with the club before graduating to become an official with local and regional leagues. He was elected to the FAW in 1989 and was previously its treasurer and senior vice-president before taking the helm last summer.
What would be his biggest wish as a devoted and enthusiastic Welsh football man? "I have to be quite honest – to go to the [UEFA] European Championship and [FIFA] World Cup," he replied. Wales last reached the World Cup in 1958, and have endured several gallant near-misses in their quest to qualify for major tournaments over the years since.
However, one particular final round is coming even closer for a group of young Welsh footballers. "I'm happy to say that at the Women's Under-19 finals, we will have a team there [as hosts] – that is a big, proud moment for everybody in Wales, especially those who are involved." Certainly, the teams and fans of the finalists can look forward eagerly to the warmth and charm of a Welsh welcome come August.
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