Wales football boss Noel Mooney promises to put World Cup money 'where our mouth is'

When Noel Mooney took over the reins as chief executive of the Football Association of Wales (FAW) in 2021, he knew there was a chance Cymru would be qualifying for its first World Cup since 1958. 

Now, Rob Page's men are in Qatar gearing up for their first game against the USA, it is very much a reality.

With Wales on the world stage, new funding available, and a sport desperate to harness this moment across the country, all eyes are on how the FAW will govern the game into the future.

Mooney has described facilities in Wales as "third world" and hasn’t held back in pushing for widespread change in the governance of the sport in Wales.

However, he has also described football's potential in the country as "unstoppable", and appears to have clubs on his side, with members from several clubs having told ITV Cymru Wales they have developed positive relationships with the chief executive.

Mooney told ITV's Wales This Week programme, "We’re trying to punch above our weight. Our facilities here are third world so we’ve set out on a very long journey.

"It’s a long walk to freedom to make sure we have the facilities we need for girls, increasingly, and boys to play football on."

“We have mirrored the English model which is the football foundation which has given out hundreds of millions of pounds across England over the last 20 years.

“We’re out many evenings with the area associations with the leagues and with the clubs looking at the pinch points, where things are not working quite well as they should be. 

“If we get this right over the next couple of years we’ll be absolutely unstoppable.”

The £4 million pot of money that grassroots clubs can bid for is now open. While it will go some way to levelling up successful applicants, Mooney acknowledges that it won't give Welsh football all the tools it needs to catch up with the grassroots game in England.

For that to happen, the game here needs sustained success at the elite level with both the men and women's senior teams, and Mooney says getting the balance right between professional and amateur is crucial.

The FAW's Dragon Park is central to producing future internationals.

Having state of the art facilities for the elite level of the game, such as the FAW's National Football Development Centre - Dragon Park - in Newport, is integral to producing the Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey of tomorrow.

Yet, hundreds of clubs across the country struggle with facilities such as changing rooms, floodlights and waterlogged pitches through the winter months.

Upgrading facilities and producing quality coaches are central to the FAW's vision of what a World Cup legacy looks like in Wales.

The challenge is that there is no shortage of clubs desperate to benefit from that vision. What does have a limit is the amount of money available to ensure it is achieved.

Throw into the mix the fact that the Cymru Premier, Wales' semi-professional league is also under review, and there is no shortage of work in the FAW's in-tray once they return from Qatar.

You can catch up with Wales This Week: A game changing legacy? online now.