The World Cup in Russia may be the summer’s big ticket when it comes to international football, however, Cardiff will be playing host to some unlikely international football fixtures of its own next month, too.
The Welsh capital is preparing for international football action with Wales nominated to host UEFA Regions’ Cup matches for the very first time.
“What’s the Regions’ Cup?”, you ask
The Regions’ Cup sees the best amateur regional teams from UEFA member nations compete biennially to be crowned champions of Europe.
Each UEFA member has the right to enter one representative team into the competition, on the proviso that they have won a domestic amateur competition.
Zagreb of Croatia are the tournament’s current champions, having played out a 1-0 victory over Ireland’s Munster/Connacht in the 2017 final in Turkey.
The accolade of representing Wales once again goes to the South Wales FA, who last month won the FAW Regions’ Cup Final against the North Wales Coast FA thanks to goals from Chris Colvin-Owens and Asa Lloyd, both of Penydarren BGC.
The celebrations on winning the final were typically boisterous from the side. The opportunity to represent their country on home soil, in front of family and friends, will undoubtedly have the team in even more jovial a mood when the tournament comes around.
The games to be held in Wales take place following the country’s selection as host of a Preliminary Qualifier Round, as the team bids to top the qualification group and be one of the eight sides to reach the finals.
While Wales may be small, the boys will be drawing on the nation’s unlikely journey to the semi finals of the European Championship back in 2016 as they look to bring further prestige upon the Welsh game.
Successfully topping the group next month would see them then head into the Intermediary Round, where they would face-off against fresh opponents.
What’s happening in Wales then?
The South Wales FA team will be joined by the Evia Region of Greece, Macedonia’s Amateurs FYR Macedonia and Sweden’s Region of Gothenburg in a series of games as they hope to progress in the competion.
Three locations across South Wales will host qualifying matches for the tournament, as Cardiff Met’s Cyncoed Campus is joined by Barry Town’s Jenner Park and Pen-y-Bont Football Club.
The South Wales team’s three fixtures will take place at Jenner Park in a gruelling week of action between 4th and 10th of June.
Meanwhile, action hits the capital as Cardiff Met’s Cyncoed Campus hosts international action with the Macedonia vs Greece, Greece vs Sweden and Sweden vs Macedonia fixtures held at the stadium.
The campus will effectively be a little corner of Greece, with the Greek team utilising it as a training base for their visit to the country alongside the two games they will play there.
On the news that the Cyncoed Campus will be hosting international guests, Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Acting Director of Sport, Owen Rodgers, said: “We are naturally excited to have been selected as one of the venues for the qualifying fixtures of one of the most prestigious international amateur football tournaments.
“It is a compliment to the university’s excellent facilities that we have been selected to host three fixtures for the tournament and there is a buzz around the place as we prepare to welcome visitors from across Europe.”
With Met boasting a highly popular MSc Sport Broadcasting Masters Degree, the choice to utilise the University’s facilities means that we could be in for some entertaining coverage of the games, too.
On the upcoming event, Course Director Joe Towns commented: “It’s a great chance for our students to cover a European football competition, some of the students have already applied for their official UEFA accreditation which is very exciting.
“The constant flow of elite sporting events hosted by our university gives our students exposure to real-world broadcast scenarios and amazing opportunities to put the skills they have learnt on the MSc into practice in a live situation.”
“For them to say they have worked at a UEFA event is something excellent to put on their CV.”
Whilst we’ll all be supporting Wales, if the Cardiff-based Greek side can bring along some Mediterranean weather with them then these allegiances could well be tested!
If you want to cheer the boys on or take in some of the other fixtures as you look for a pre-World Cup fix then you can learn more about the tournament at http://www.faw.cymru/en/news/uefa-regions-cup-comes-wales/
Here’s some top drawer amateur goals to get you in the mood…