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27 Jan 2006

Olympic bronze medal winning swimmer and Commonwealth Games hopeful David Davies was yesterday on hand at the Wales Millennium Centre to officially launch The Welsh Sports Association’s (WSA) latest drive to develop sporting opportunities through the medium of Welsh.

The umbrella body for national governing bodies of sport in Wales has developed the Welsh Language Development Support Programme in partnership with the Sports Council for Wales and the Welsh Language Board, and is aimed at creating more opportunities to take part in, coach and be coached in Welsh, and will focus initially on the identification of Welsh speaking coaches and providing a Welsh language support programme for the coaches to enable and encourage them to work in Welsh.

Chairman of the Welsh Sports Association, Bob Turner said:

"The appointment of a Welsh Language Development Officer at the WSA not only indicates our commitment to providing equal opportunities for all sports in Wales. It also demonstrates a commitment to the Welsh language forged in a partnership not only with the Sports Council for Wales and Welsh language Board but also with proactive sporting and cultural agencies such as the Urdd, who have a great record of delivering sport in Welsh in the community."

Training for nearly thirty hours every week, swim star Davies, 20 from Barry backed the plans to create Welsh language sporting environment for young people before hopping a bigger pond to start warm weather training in Australia on Sunday ahead of the Commonwealth Games (15-26 March 2006). He said:

"As a professional swimmer, I spend most of my time in competitions or in training sessions. Over the years, I have made some good friends across the world. Language can really make a difference to how people interact with one another and I’m proud to use the Welsh language at every opportunity with team mates and friends."

Alun Pugh, Minister for Culture, Sport and Welsh Language and Sport said:

"Providing more opportunities for young people to speak Welsh is essential to the process of creating a truly bi-lingual Wales. Sport can help people build friendships and gain confidence and young people should have the chance to do so in Welsh."