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Partner Spotlight : Urdd Gobaith Cymru

Urdd Gobaith Cymru are currently celebrating their 100th anniversary in style by working with their partners to promote events such as the National Schools Rugby 7s and the Urban Games - whilst also marking their birthday in fine fashion by breaking world records.

The Urdd is Wales’ largest youth organisation and they have provided opportunities for more than four million young people to enjoy sporting, cultural, volunteering and residential experiences through the medium of Welsh. 

Many children growing up in Wales would have gone on school trips to places such as Llangrannog and Glan-llyn, whilst also taking part in sporting events or Eisteddfods organised by the Urdd. 

The Urdd and its supporters honoured the milestone by breaking the Guinness World Record for the most videos of people singing the same song uploaded to Facebook and Twitter in a one-hour period. 

There were 1,176 videos of people singing “Hei Mistar Urdd”, posted to Twitter and over 800 to Facebook. The songs were uploaded on the 25th January which is the official birthday of the Urdd. 

“We wanted to do something really significant to mark and celebrate the Urdd’s centenary and it needed to be something that could involve all our members, past and present,” says Sian Lewis, who is the chief executive of the Urdd. 

“Achieving two Guinness World Records was just the thing. It was great to see all our members ranging from schools, sporting clubs, volunteers and businesses taking part. 

“It was an opportunity for us to thank everyone who has played a small or significant part in making the Urdd an important movement for the people of Wales.” 

The Covid-19 pandemic proved to be a challenging time for the Urdd but they are now looking to the future and have a range of new events and plans in place to round off their centenary year. 

“There is no doubt that the period since March 2020 has been the most challenging in our history,” adds Lewis. 

“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to close our camps and our regular community, sporting and cultural activities had to stop.  

“However, we are rebuilding, and the year of our centenary will be one to remember, with the plans of every department reflecting our spirit and ambition.” 

Sport plays a pivotal part in promoting the Welsh language for the Urdd and their sports director Gary Lewis was pleased to have been able to have offered a service to young people during the pandemic. 

“During Covid, we offered digital sports lessons through a project called Actif Adref,” says Lewis. 

“This gave primary aged children the opportunity to try a range of different sports such as gymnastics, football, rugby and basketball and it was great to link up with different partners such as Sport Wales and the FAW.

“Over 2,000 children and young people engaged in our weekly online sessions and it was important for us to show our commitment to young people during the pandemic and to make sure they didn’t miss out.” 

Boys smiling in muddy kit after playing rugby
The Urdd 7's will be even more inclusive in 2022's tournament.
It was an opportunity for us to thank everyone who has played a small or significant part in making the Urdd an important movement for the people of Wales.
Sian Lewis, Chief Executive of the Urdd

Lewis is also excited about working with partners such as the WRU on events such as the National Schools 7’s tournament, which will see over 500 teams compete at Pontcanna Fields in Cardiff, between the 4th-8th April. 

“Our partnership with the WRU continues to go from strength to strength as we strive to develop and enhance opportunities for all. 

“Rugby is a game for everyone, and we are pleased to make the 2022 tournament more inclusive than ever by including girls’ teams and wheelchair rugby competitions.” 

WRU community director Geraint John says: “Our partnership with the Urdd is one we treasure. 

“We are aligned in our aims to use rugby to make a difference to all communities in Wales – and inclusive of every young person in those communities. 

“The pandemic hit young people particularly hard so it’s fantastic to see their appetite to come together and compete again and we look forward to inviting teams from other Six Nations countries to be part of the brilliant Urdd WRU 7s.”

The Urdd are also looking forward to working with the Welsh Government and Sport Wales on the Urban Games this summer. 

The event takes place in the heart of Cardiff Bay across the weekend of the 18th-19th June and Lewis is keen to promote several sports which proved popular at the Olympics. 

“Following the huge success of BMX, skateboarding and 3x3 Basketball at the Tokyo Olympics, this event aims to showcase and celebrate these new sports along with other activities on the urban scene,” he says.

“We are expecting around 3,000 participants to be in Cardiff for the event and a large percentage of those won’t be Welsh speakers, so it will be a good opportunity to promote the language to everyone involved.” 

Lewis is delighted to work with a range of different partners and says it’s vital that sport and the Welsh language work together for young people. 

“15,000 young people participate in weekly Urdd Welsh medium community clubs, and we are very proud to offer a fantastic range of sports clubs to suit everybody’s needs. 

“We are very grateful to all our partners who collaborate to make our work such a success and we are always interested in working with new organisations, too. 

“Also, we have nearly 200 Welsh medium apprentices currently receiving training. These opportunities are available to all partners free of charge. 

“We offer apprenticeships in activity leadership, sports development, PE and school sport, the outdoor sector and early years.”

Plenty, then, to keep Welsh youngsters busy and active for the next 100 years. 

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