WITH the Euros kicking off this evening - and Wales in action tomorrow - a fan group for Wales' South Asian community has been set up, inspired by a similar Newport County supporters' group.

Amar Cymru has been founded by Jalal Goni and was inspired by the Exiles Together group, which he also founded.

“Amar Cymru was formed to give people across Wales of South Asian background a voice in football,” he said.

South Wales Argus: Amar Cymru

“It stems from our Newport County fan club Exiles Together, which helps people from the BAME community to engage with the club.

“So we do like various different activities to get people to integrate into the city, on the same time to go to Rodney Parade and watch the games."

The group was formed during Ramadan when Mr Goni and other founders asked people of South Asian backgrounds if they supported Wales.


He said: “The majority of them said ‘yes, we watch Wales all the time’ so we asked ‘what's stopping you going to the stadium?’.

“Most of them was have this image of football stadiums being full of racial chants and not being a place for the South Asian community.

“I've been to watch Wales numerous times since I was about 10 years old and I’ve always felt embraced – you feel like part of a bigger group”.

Amar means ‘my’ so the name Amar Cymru translates to ‘My Wales’.

Though it has origins in Newport, the group is represented across Wales and will formally meet for the first time to watch Wales take on Italy in the Euros on Sunday, June 20.

Around 30 members will watch the game at Juboraj restaurant in Cardiff, in keeping with current Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Goni believes that the football hooliganism of the 1970s and 1980s has put people in the South Asian community off from going to games.

“My dad, or somebody else’s grandparents came over in the 60s and 70s and they didn't feel welcome to go to the stadium,” he said.

“And if they did people would make racial remarks or slurs.

“Having that in the back of their mind, they didn't want their kids to go through it”.

Another group that has inspired the group has been the Apna England supporters group, which is also for people of a South Asian background.

South Wales Argus: Amar Cymru

England manager Gareth Southgate recently attended a Zoom meeting with the group and other advocates like Mr Goni to talk about how to increase South Asian representation in football.

Shahinoor Alom, another member of Amar Cymru, believes that South Asian football fans in Wales can expect a warmer welcome than those in England.

“I think in Wales there is a more family-friendly atmosphere at games,” he said.

“It’s great because it shows the diversity and inclusivity of Wales as a nation and our unique heritage in the world.

“Having been born and brought up in Newport, I feel much more included and welcome than other people of Bangladeshi origin living in England, for example.

“This is my home”.

So far the group is made up of 30-40 young men, but is open to all genders.

Both Mr Goni and Mr Alom are optimistic about Wales chances at this year’s tournament.

Mr Alom said: “On paper, I feel like we could go all the way.

South Wales Argus: Amar Cymru

“There’s nothing to say that we can’t win it, but I would be really happy if we get to the quarter finals. The semis would be amazing!”.

Mr Goni was a bit more subdued and acknowledged how difficult the group is for Wales this year.

“I definitely think we got one of the hardest groups.

“But, and it is a cliché, if we win the first game I think we will have the momentum.

“The aim is the semi-final, but I think as a nation we’ll be happy with a quarter final”.

Wales kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Switzerland in Baku at 2pm on Saturday 12 June.

The game will be broadcast on BBC One from 1.15pm.