Wales

Why Wales have already won by qualifying for Euro 2016

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Image caption Gareth Bale in a training session for Euro 2016

They dream of success, and the Wales team have given their fans a tantalising taste of what it feels like to be on the winning team.

Their manager has already made it clear that whatever happens in Euro 2016 Wales will go home as winners for qualifying and their performance.

But what does Wales' success mean for the team, fans and the nation?

Together. Stronger. Two words which have been much repeated in recent months.

They have become a mantra for Wales players and fans alike.

And, after the opening match, fans started to believe the team could get through to the knock-out stages, or even further.

But however far Wales go in Euro 2016 manager Chris Coleman has insisted it is "not the end of the journey".

He added: "This team has got the potential to go on and on. They've got everything to look forward to."

His response is a reflection of the hard work behind closed doors of the backroom staff, who are trying to keep the players focused on being positive.

Confidence

Sports psychologists believe this is important in building the team's future success.

Dr Brendan Cropley, from Cardiff Metropolitan University's School of Sport, said: "One of the biggest ways of developing confidence in teams and individuals is by performing accomplishments.

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Image caption Chris Coleman said Euro 2016 is just the start for Wales

"The Wales team are riding this wave of confidence as they have qualified and, thanks to their qualification campaign, they do know they can upset the biggest teams.

"Winning the first game added to their confidence, as not only did they win but they won in the way they wanted to play."

The togetherness of the Wales team has also been applauded, and Dr Cropley believes this will help them in the Russia match, and the future.

"A lot has been made of the individual players in this tournament such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey," said Dr Cropley. "But the team that do the best will be the best team, and Wales certainly are close.

"From here Wales will want to qualify for the World Cup and go from strength to strength."

Battle

Any future campaign would have the backing of the legions of Welsh fans, who have been inspired by the team's success in reaching the tournament.

"As fans you feel as though you have an investment in the players and the team" said sports performance specialist Dr Nicky Lewis, from the University of South Wales.

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Image caption The boots of Wales' Gareth Bale sit in a bag at the training ground

"You pay to see them, you spend hours supporting them, you buy their shirts. There is a real sense of community and pride in the players so when they do well you feel as though you have done well.

"You support them with your heart, so it is not just watching the match, you feel as if it is an emotional response. If your team loses you feel personally let down.

"Although the two teams are not actually in battle or at war, they are teams fighting for supremacy in that arena so you are going to expect that same sort of emotion from the fans."

Productivity

And a country riding the wave of success could benefit from a boost in the economy thanks to the elation of a win.

David Pickernell, professor in economic development policy at the University of South Wales, said: "Studies have shown there are short-term feel good productivity benefits. People go to work and are exuberant, having won, not depressed about having lost."

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Image caption Midfielder Aaron Ramsey signs autographs after a training session

The economy can also benefit from sales to do with the tournament itself.

"There are increased sales of things like beer and pizza if you are sitting at home," said Prof Pickernell. "There is also the trade in pubs and bars, they generally get a boost if they are showing the games. People also buy the team's kit while they are doing well. But it depends how long they stay in the tournament."

Grass roots

The team's success could give the potential for more backing for young players coming up through the Welsh system.

Dr Cropley said: "I have done a lot of work with the FAW Trust, and success should increase the amount of children wanting to play football. Hopefully that will help increase the provision for promoting football in Wales, to try and increase coaching and participation.

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Image caption The success of the Wales team in qualifying could encourage another generation of footballers

"What is happening in the first team is a fruition of that initial effort, the success the team have had gives the government the impetus to continue with that legacy."

The Welsh Government said it provided £1m a year to develop the sport.

Former Wales goalkeeper Neville Southall, who was capped 92 times, has already called for increased investment in football calling Wales' participation "one chance in a million" to develop the sport.

However far Wales go, their manager wants to stress the positives the team will take from Euro 2016.

Coleman said: "This group, this team, they can't lose because whenever we go home, whenever that time is, we have gained so much experience."

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