Alfie Tuck

A-Grade student. QPR's Alfie Tuck celebrates scoring against Iceland. Pic: Owen Morgan

Tuck In To Your Favourite Language, Said QPR . . . So, Chwarae Teg, Alfie Did

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Exclusive by Owen Morgan

Alfie Tuck doesn’t just want to walk the walk on the pitch for Wales, he wants to talk the talk off it, too.

The 17-year-old QPR midfielder is taking weekly Welsh lessons in a bid to immerse himself in the nation’s culture.

Tuck may be London-born and bred but is eligible to play for Wales through his maternal grandfather.

Despite his background being more jellied eels than bara brith, Tuck is determined to reinforce his Welsh roots by learning the language.

Alfie Tuck Alfie Tuck (centre) belts out the Welsh national anthem with his Wales Under-17 team mates. Pic; Owen Morgan

The youngster says he’s been inspired by childhood trips to visit the Welsh side of his family and the example made by Welsh-speaking senior squad players like Joe Allen, Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey.

Tuck told Dai Sport: “Even though I had no experience of learning Welsh before I started playing for the national youth team age groups, I was passionate about learning the language through visiting family who live in Wales.

“I have my mum’s side of the family living not too far from Barry, where, from a young age, we would go and visit them. I wanted to learn a few words every time we would go.”

When the chance to learn a new language arose through the London-based Championship club – where he has played since the age of eight – there was only going to be one choice for Tuck.

“QPR gave me an opportunity to take a language of my choice, and I chose Welsh,” he said.

“I’ve done a couple of interviews with the Wales youth team. I spoke in English but wanted the opportunity to do an interview in Welsh.

“My teacher, who has helped me learn Welsh in such a short time, gave me inspiration from players such as Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Joe Allen who have done interviews in Welsh and that gave me confidence with my lessons.

“I would love one day to do an interview in Welsh for the men’s national team.”

Alfie Tuck Alfie Tuck wheels away after scoring for Wales. Pic: Owen Morgan 4

Tuck’s tuitor is Laura Jenkins, modern languages and marketing manager and Welsh teacher at International House London, a large language school based in Covent Garden.

Jenkins, originally from Pontypridd, said: “We’ve been working with a few different football clubs, over recent years delivering language lessons.

“Last year, we had a request for Welsh from Alfie, so I jumped at the opportunity. It’s been great, a really fantastic opportunity.

“Alfie’s a youth player for the Cymru team but lives here in London, so he wanted to learn Welsh in order to get more in touch with the culture.

“Obviously, being able to speak the language is a way of doing so. He is also very aware of TV programmes like Sgorio and that lots of people are following the games. He wants to have more of a connection to that element of it.

“Ultimately, one day, he is hoping to be able to give interviews and things in the language.”

Tuck has already impressed on the pitch in the red shirt of Wales. Last year he was part of the Welsh Under-17 squad which made history by qualifying for the European Under-17 Championship finals in Hungary.

His superbly controlled volley helped Wales to a vital 1-1 draw against Iceland in their Elite Round Qualification Group matches.

The QPR Under-18 squad member also scored the winning spot-kick for Wales in a penalty shoot-out against Spain in an Under-16 development tournament in 2022.

Alfie Tuck Alfie Tuck puts Wales ahead with a fierce volley against Iceland. Pic: Owen Morgan

And he has been showing the same sort of promise and focus on his Welsh studies says Jenkins, a former pupil at Ysgol Rhydfelen, now known Ysgol Garth Olwg.

“His attitude is very motivating and inspiring, it’s really, really admirable. He’s doing really well in the lessons as well,” said Jenkins.

“As you know, the Welsh language is quite tricky. Linguistic elements that are very foreign when you’re not familiar with the language, things like treigladau (mutations) – they’re just bizarre to people who are not used to the language.

“But he’s really taken all of that in his stride and it’s going really, really well, which is great.

“It can be daunting, perhaps maybe even scare some people off sometimes. But he’s really embracing all of that and progressing fantastically well with the language.

“We have lessons once a week which are organised through the club. It’s been a fantastic experience for him, he seems to be really enjoying the lessons. He’s progressing very well and it’s testimony to all the hard work he’s putting in.

“He studies a lot, he really puts a lot of effort into the pronunciation in particular and really pays attention to the detail there.”

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Alfie has even displayed his new found linguistic talent in a series of video interviews for International House London, alongside some of his QPR teammates, who have opted for some of the more traditional football languages among the 17 offered by the school.

Jenkins, who has a master’s degree in foreign languages and taught for International House in Barcelona for a number of years, said: “We deal with a lot of different clubs, with Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, quite popular as well. German is increasing in popularity with the Bundesliga being quite strong.

“So, when we got the request for Welsh last year, I thought, ‘gosh, this is really unusual and really interesting.

“But then as soon as I met Alfie, heard his background story and his motivation for learning the language, I was like, ‘yeah, you know, that makes total sense’. Fair play to him, it’s fantastic what he’s doing.”

Tuck is grateful for the tuition and support he has received from Jenkins.

“At the beginning of my lessons, I wondered how I was going to learn, and understand, the language,” admitted Tuck.

“With the belief and support of my teacher, who has helped me massively in a short time, I am growing in confidence.

“Welsh is a difficult language to learn but I have enjoyed the challenge and look forward to continuing to learn.

“My mum and her side of the family are extremely proud and happy that I have started learning Welsh and were proud to see the interview that I did with QPR and IH London.

“I’m looking forward to visiting them soon and hopefully having a conversation with them in Welsh!”

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