#Member associations

Wales' Dave Adams: Developing a national football philosophy

David Adams, 10 Aug 2023


The Welsh Way united football across Wales. FAW Chief Football Officer, Dave Adams, explains this football philosophy's origins, outreach and requirements.


  • How a national football philosophy can ‘unify’ football across a country 

  • Developing core messages and principles that run across national teams, coach education and grassroots/amateur football 

  • The benefits of consistent language and approach in a player pathway

The Welsh Way: Wales’ football philosophy

The development of Wales’ National Football Philosophy, the Welsh Wayhas helped the country unify the game at all levels, says Dave Adams, FAW Chief Football Officer.  “The Welsh Way has been a really good way to unify the football family across the country,” explains Adams, who was FAW Technical Director from 2019 until 2022, before taking up the new title of Chief Football Officer. 

“We launched the Welsh Way in 2016 on the back of the success of the Men’s National Team in the European Championships,” he adds. “We wanted to use the success as a catalyst to anchor the notion that we should have a national football syllabus for Wales and we should have certain principles running as a thread through all our football services. 

“We wanted that thread to work for a grassroots coach coming on a coaching course for the first time, an A licence coach or a national team coach. We wanted them all to be able to understand how the principles relate to their environment. We wanted to get these messages across to all our stakeholders involved in the game in Wales.”

Simple principles

Developing simple principles as well as a consistent language that could be understood at all levels of the game, were two key aspects of the project, explains Adams, who, alongside a long coach education and national team involvement with the FAW, has also held youth and senior coaching positions at Swansea City, Everton and Middlesbrough. 

“In terms of our on-field principles, we wanted to have really simple principles of play that could be delivered throughout our coaching programme and which were understandable to a grassroots C licence coach all the way through to a Mikel Arteta on our elite pathway. We wanted the content of our Welsh Way national syllabus to be applicable to all coaches across all levels of the game. 

“Essentially, we wanted to make sure the document was broad enough that it catered for all of these stakeholders, but also specific enough to enable a national team coach to pick it up and be able to use the information, modelling best practice to actually support player development.”

Adams reiterates the importance of a common language and consistent approach to support both coach and player development in Wales. 

Consistent language

I think it’s really helpful if there's a consistency of language and approach for our players as they go through the player pathway,” he explains. “So, it’s not like a player is going from grassroots, licenced academy, professional club to national team and things are very different. Instead, we want them to be similar. So, this consistency of language and approach has really helped unify the entire football family in Wales.”

It’s not only playing and coaching principles that Adams and the FAW want to embed across the game in Wales, but also core values, he explains. 

“We believe in this idea of family, respect and excellence as our core values. So, if we can get our coaches, at all levels, including grassroots, to articulate these values into their environments, it will hopefully help their environment to be more aligned to what we do as a Wales national team.”


  • A national football philosophy can help ‘unify’ football across a country 

  • Develop core messages and principles that run across national teams, coach education and grassroots/amateur football

  •  Provide a positive experience for your players by employing a consistent language and approach across all aspects of a player pathway


  • How effectively does your national football philosophy ‘unify’ football across your country? What do you need to do to maintain or improve this? 

  • What are the core messages that underpin your national football philosophy? How simple and easy are these to communicate to others? 

  • How do you think a young player would describe their experience of your player pathway? Do they have clear and consistent messages at the various different levels?

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