School children in Wales have been given the green light to support Robert Page’s World Cup-bound side with timetables cleared for the group game against Iran.
The Welsh Government has left it for schools to decide how to manage the Iran game, which kicks off at 10am GMT on Friday, November 25.
Wales will be playing at their first World Cup for 64 years in Qatar and their other two group games, against the United States and England, have later kick-offs at 7pm GMT.
The Football Association of Wales has organised a ‘Cymru Football Friday’ for the Iran game, with 1,100 schools throughout the country preparing for a “full day of football activity”.
FAW chief executive Noel Mooney said: “We’ve worked with Welsh Government and created packs so every school in the country can celebrate with bunting, footballs, flags and images of the players.
“We want to create a festival in all our schools and the Iran game is perfect for us.
“You want a child to remember it, and hopefully go on to play for us and become the future.”
Around 2,300 school children in Wales took part in the Urdd’s Jambori event on Thursday. Pupils wore red for the day and sang Wales’ official World Cup song ‘Yma o Hyd’.
Events such as skills sessions, inter-school matches and football festivals are planned either side of the Iran game on November 25.
Cori Mabey, head of PE at Treorchy Comprehensive School, said: “Lessons two and three are off the timetable so students can watch the Wales-Iran game in different facilities.
“We’ll be using the sports hall, the main lecture theatre hall, and other television will be dotted around classrooms as well.
Dros 230,000 o blant yn cydganu Yma o Hyd gyda @dafyddiwan. ❤
— Urdd Gobaith Cymru (@Urdd) November 10, 2022
“I’ve been in the school six years and I’ve seen a transition from rugby to football in that time over both participation numbers and interest.
“I’m also in a head of department group chat with teachers in England and they were really surprised we were coming off the timetable during school hours.
“They’re not doing anything at all. I don’t know if they’re just used to being in tournaments.
“But there’s a real pride here, especially with the manager Rob Page coming from the Rhondda, that’s bringing people together.”
Gwyl Cymru Festival, a 10-day celebration of creativity linked to the World Cup campaign, was launched on Friday through the FAW and the Arts Council of Wales and will also promote Welsh culture and language.
🌍 From Swansea to Sweden, Carmarthen to Canada, Neath to New York City…
— FA WALES (@FAWales) November 4, 2022
Charlotte Slye, who teaches at Treorchy Comprehensive, said: “What’s happening is much bigger than just football, all departments at the school are looking at what role they can play.
“You see what the FAW are doing on social media with their videos, there’s so much more about being Welsh.
“But I would say we’re a football school now. We took 50 students to watch the Wales v Bosnia women’s qualifier last month, and girls’ football is now as big as any sport we do.”
FAW Head of Grassroots Football Ben Field said: “The power of the World Cup is amazing. You can just feel the momentum and the interest building.
“There is huge scope for cross-curricular learning and we’re hoping the legacy will be significant growth both for the men’s game and the women’s game.”