Carwyn Jones, Warren Gatland and Roger Lewis were the special guests at the official opening of a new clubhouse at Cefn Cribwr Athletic club last weekend.
The project is a fantastic tribute not only to Cefn Cribwr and all the men and women here within the village, but also to the game of rugby
The rugby club, which is at the heart of the local community in Bridgend, sourced funding from the Welsh Rugby Union, the local authority and club sponsors in 2013 to fund the project, which was first mooted in Committee Minutes in 1961, and completed the first stage of building works earlier this month.
The First Minister joined the Wales coach, Gatland, and WRU chief executive, Lewis, for the ribbon cutting ceremony last Friday night to celebrate the moment when a 50-year-old plan became a modern reality.
"The WRU wants everyone involved in the community game to be fully aware of the available funding streams which have resulted in almost £27 million being received by rugby clubs across Wales from the governing body over the past five years, with Cefn being an excellent example of how to do it," said Lewis.
"The project is a fantastic tribute not only to Cefn Cribwr and all the men and women here within the village, but also to the game of rugby.
"Rugby is what keeps the village together, is what has inspired and motivated the village and the new club house is a direct result of the ambition, hardwork and endeavour at the club."
The project has been funded by a WRU facilities Grant (£10K), a WRU club loan (£50K) and Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust (£20K), Waterloo Foundation (10K) contributions as well as sponsorship, other contributions and help from the local authority in Bridgend.
Funding which could be available to many rugby clubs in Wales and which can be accessed via the WRU's dedicated funding team which is in place to help clubs raise money for similar development projects.
"Cefn is a great example of what is possible for all clubs," continued Lewis, who is also president of the club.
"We celebrated 125 years of rugby in the village this season with the first game played in 1888 and we here all these years later to celebrate the opening of this incredible clubhouse.
"I just feel it's a very humbling experience, because this is what the game is all about, this is what communities are all about and to see the community coming together to celebrate their collective achievement is something that I just feel so proud of."
Rhydian James, chairman of Cefn Cribwr Athletic Club, praised the work of the club's committee in securing the funds for the project.
"The new clubhouse has come together extremely well, this is the first of a three phase development we have virtually 75 per cent of the floor space remaining to put in on the lower ground floor," said James.
"We are hoping to develop that as a community asset with the help of all our sponsors, the WRU and the local authority. We are trying to revitalise rugby in the village."
Wales head coach Gatland has always taken a strong interest in grassroots rugby in Wales and has backed this project from the start, cutting the first sod on the building site just over a year ago, and he hopes Cefn's success will inspire other clubs.
"I think there's an opportunity for a lot of clubs hopefully in Wales to improve their facilities so to see the WRU invest in and help a club like Cefn Cribwr its absolutely fantastic," said Gatland.
"I was at the old club and that had a bit of history, but to see the facilities here today and to be here for the opening, when it's finished, to see what sort of job has been done is a privilege.
"What a great facility not just for the rugby club but the community as well, hopefully they'll make the most of it now and everyone gets to benefit from this brilliant facility."
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
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