Andrew Coombs tries out the new equipment that he and his Dragon teammates will be using in training.
Wales head coach, Warren Gatland, WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis and Wales duo Andrew Coombs and Hallam Amos, were unanimous in their appreciation of Caerphilly County Borough's new Centre for Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach which was officially opened this week.
The Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, Cllr Keith Reynolds and Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths AM had the honour of opening the state of the art facility.
The flagship facility will provide a first class training venue for elite and flourishing rugby and football players to develop their strength and skills using the purpose built conditioning suite and the two international standard 3G pitches.
The Newport Gwent Dragons will use the facility as their regional base for training and for junior development matches, while Cardiff City and the Welsh Rugby Union regional development academies and age grade teams also plan to utilise the grounds. Students from Coleg y Cymoedd will also have access to the facilities and community clubs will have access to the 3G pitches on a priority booking basis.
Welsh international and Dragons skipper Andrew Coombs commented, "This facility in Ystrad Mynach is a massive boost for the players. It is the sort of site that we need at the Dragons in order to develop and maintain our skills to the highest of standards.
"We have all been really impressed with the centre and the gym in particular and we are extremely excited to start our pre-season training here."
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said: "This is a great example of like-minded people working together in the interests of developing elite sporting talent. Caerphilly County Borough should be recognised for their initiative in creating this outstanding facility that will benefit Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff City and ultimately Wales."
Wales head coach Warren Gatland added, "I firmly believe that the right environment is key to success on the field. We have seen that at our National Centre of Excellence, and the same will no doubt be seen here at this new facility at Ystrad Mynach. It is something the Dragons clearly needed in order to compete at the highest level, and the talented young people in this area will also reap the benefits, along with community clubs. It is a fantastic achievement and definitely something organisations and councils in other areas of Wales could replicate."
Culture and Sport Minister, John Griffiths said. "The facilities I have seen here today are very impressive. It is an excellent example of the council's commitment to provide the best quality facilities for sport and leisure. I am sure it will inspire young people in the area to participate and excel in sport and will complement other council facilities which promote and facilitate healthy lifestyles through physical activity.
"The links the council has made with other partners including professional sports teams, governing bodies, local clubs and the college are particularly impressive. It is very pleasing to see a collective commitment and drive behind a very worthwhile project."
Cllr Dave Poole, Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure Services, commented, "The Caerphilly County Borough Centre for Sporting Excellence has changed the landscape of Ystrad Mynach and will provide a top class facility for elite athletes and promising young talent to hone and develop their skills in both rugby and football. The investment we have made in developing this facility will support high performance but will also allow some community clubs the opportunity to use facilities that they have only dreamed of."
Welsh Football Trust Chief Executive, Neil Ward, said "We congratulate all those involved, particularly Caerphilly County Borough Council, on the development of such an inspirational facility. A modern, flexible football offer coupled with quality facilities, particularly floodlit artificial turf pitches, are at the heart of our strategy for growing the game and raising standards. The facility will be a huge asset to the community of Ystrad Mynach and the development of both football and rugby. It also represents a model of excellence for other local authorities to emulate."
The development of the Caerphilly County Borough Centre for Sporting Excellence has been supported by Sport Wales, Welsh Government, the Welsh Rugby Union and the Welsh Football Trust
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.