Key Professionals in Sport Consider Wales Status as a Sporting Society

The Taliesin welcomed a robust audience for Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH) panel discussion: ‘Wales: a sporting society’.

The event  was hosted by some of Wales’s key professionals in sport including former rugby player and commentator Stuart Davies, broadcaster and journalist Carolyn Hitt, Chair of Sport Wales Laura McAllister and 'Swans 100' historian Martin Johnes.

Sports Panel

Focusing on the topic of Wales’s status as a sporting society, the hour-long panel discussion, and audience question and answer session, debated some of the more ‘topical’ issues in sport such as the Swansea City’s victory over Bradford in the Capital One Cup at Wembley and the regionalisation of rugby, before considering the issue of sports participation (for both adults and children) in Wales.

The Session was chaired by Welsh Historian Professor Chris Williams, Director of RIAH and Editor of the Richard Burton Diaries, and featured some ofWales’s key sporting professionals including:

  • Stuart Davies, capped 17 times by Wales (1992-98), 245 appearances for Swansea RFC including as captain during the 1992 victory over Australia; more recently an authoritative commentator on the game for the BBC and in other media.
  • Carolyn Hitt, award-winning sports broadcaster and journalist and author of Wales Play In Red (Gomer Press, 2012).
  • Dr Martin Johnes, Head of the Department of History and Classics, author of A History of Sport in Wales (University of Wales Press, 2005) and Wales Since 1939 (Manchester University Press, 2012) and project leader of ‘Swans 100’.
  • Professor Laura McAllister, Chair of Sport Wales, Professor of Governance at theUniversity ofLiverpool and former captain of the Wales Women’s Football XI.
  • Mal Pope, award-winning musician, composer and musical theatre director. Former Swansea Schoolboys Under 13 captain (Welsh Champions, 1973).

‌Director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH), Professor Chris Williams said, “The timing of this event couldn’t have been better amidst the drama of the Six Nations and following Swansea City’s appearance in the final of the Capital One Cup at Wembley. The discussion was topical, but also thoughtful and raised some serious concerns, despite Wales’s significant high-profile sporting status, around low sporting participation for both children and adults. The message was clear it is important for us all to consider how we can help to promote participation in sport whether that is taking part, encouraging activity and play for children, or even volunteering.

“This is the first kind of panel event that RIAH has run and it is a perfect example of engaging the public in topical issues that are supported by research that has been undertaken at the University. Members of the audience remarked how much they had enjoyed the discussion and how they felt the debate could have been extended, so I am confident this format will be used in future public events.”

This event formed part of Swansea University’s Festival of Research – a week-long showcase of research excellence, supported by Bridging the Gaps. 

 Williams, Carolyn Hitt, Mal Pope, Professor Laura McAllister, Stuart Davies.