A new report says Wales should use sport to strengthen its place on the world stage.
The report ‘Towards a Welsh Sports Diplomacy Strategy’ sets out how Wales’ sporting assets could help the country develop and strengthen its relations with the rest of the world.
The authors call on sporting organisations and government to work together to make Wales the first devolved nation with a sports diplomacy strategy.
Wales could join Australia, New Zealand and France as the only countries to have strategies that recognise the importance of sport in building international relations.
These countries have discovered the power of sports people as ambassadors and the report says Wales should use the popularity of its top-flight athletes in the same way.
Jenny Scott, director of British Council Wales who commissioned the report, said: “This new report follows on from our previous research into Wales’ soft power, which found that Welsh sport is one of the country’s most powerful assets abroad.
“Wales enjoys independent representation at many international sporting events and while we’re a small country, we have an impressive sporting footprint. Our research shows that sports diplomacy presents a real opportunity for Wales.
“Welsh Government are already doing great work in this area, and although there is always more we can all do, a collaborative approach will be vital to making this work.”
Dr Stuart Murray of Bond University, Australia, lead researcher for the report, said: “Wales sits on a veritable goldmine of sporting talent, resources and opportunity. Sports diplomacy is an innovative method of raising a nation’s profile with overseas publics, businesses and governments, but it also has value for the sports sector.
“The report looks at what other nations are doing in this area and gives recommendations for the steps Wales could take to further utilise its sporting assets.
“Key to this is collaboration between government and sports, but also recognising the huge variety and breadth of sports diplomacy opportunities, from Wales’ world-renowned mountain biking, the recently announced Island Games in Anglesey and Wales’ top-flight coaching schemes.”
Professor Laura McAllister, Welsh academic and former international sportswoman, says in the report’s foreword: “Sport generates opportunities to engage with people across the globe. It builds the informal networks that create and strengthen formal and official relationships.
“Sport not only plays a key role in expressing who we are, but also what we stand for politically, as an open and accessible trading partner, a good global citizen with an inclusive and welcoming people.”