IT WAS good to see a big crowd at Pontypool Park last weekend for Pooler’s cup win against Tata Steel.

The conditions weren’t ideal, for watching let alone for playing, but Pontypool produced an impressive display of attacking rugby to advance to the next round, on the weekend of January 27.

The draw takes place this week, and I’m hoping for Newport or Ebbw Vale at the park!

Great credit has to go to the staff and players at Pontypool for some excellent displays in the past 18 months.

A special mention, however, has to go to Ben and Peter Jeffries for their support for the club.

Travelling back after the loss to Bargoed in April 2016, it was hard to see the positives, but the club has stuck together and gone from strength to strength, on and off the pitch.

I’m proud of that not only as a fan, but as someone who values the reputation of Pooler within rugby as a real asset for our community.

Wherever I am in the world, if I’m wearing my Pooler shirt, rugby fans stop me and talk about our club.

That should not just be a part of our heritage, but a part of our positive future too.

This isn’t just about Pooler either.

In Torfaen we’re blessed with many fantastic clubs, in rugby and beyond.

As a Griffithstown man, I was delighted by Panteg AFC’s run in the cup, and by New Panteg RFC’s successful season so far.

I’ve also seen the youth sections in clubs like Blaenavon and Pontypool United go from strength to strength, thanks to the dedication of those who run them.

I know things haven’t always been easy for local sports clubs, and I only wish national government would give councils more money to support them.

But in adversity, the strength of our communities really shines through.

And even if you’re not a big sports fan, I hope you can see the value of what our local sports clubs do, at every level.

It’s not just about the elite superstars – it’s about keeping people active and healthy.

About giving young people a positive hobby, something to instil discipline, self-confidence and the value of hard work.

So if you’re a volunteer sports coach, I hope you’re proud of the difference you’re making.

It might be cold sometimes, like it certainly was this weekend.

We may be as far removed from multi-millionaire coaches as you can get.

But together we’re strengthening our communities and helping give people the best possible chance in life, and that’s worth more than any pay cheque.