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MONDAY 4th JUNE Cyncoed Campus and Jenner Park, warm and sunny
EVIA REGION 1 AMATEURS OF MACEDONIA 0
SOUTH WALES 5 REGION OF GOTHENBURG 0
(UEFA Regions Cup, Qualifying Group A)

Wales was chosen as a host country in one of the qualifying groups in this year's Regions Cup, which is probably UEFA's least-understood competition. It's an oddity among European tournaments, not quite a club competition, nor an international representative one, and has its own set of entry criteria and rules. Even seasoned and respected observers of world, European and amateur football confess to having a less than complete grasp of the Regions Cup, so it's not surprising that the general public are in the dark. Some of the reporting this week has been pretty misleading too - one online source referring to the Welsh players involved as receiving "Wales call-ups". So before we get to the games, let's try and give them some accurate context:

Firstly, it's a competition strictly for "amateur" footballers. No player who has ever played in a national top-level league (so including the Welsh Premier) would be eligible, nor any who has been on a professional or semi-pro contract.

How countries arrive at their one nominated entrant is up to them: most, like Wales, organise some form of inter-regional contest between selections drawn from one or more local leagues - the South Wales FA squad consists mainly of players from the South Wales Alliance and lowest rung of the Welsh League, and qualified by winning a competition involving the other five Welsh regions. There's a common belief that it's possible for countries to enter an amateur club rather than a selection, but that's expressly forbidden in the rules - squads have to be drawn from at least three different clubs. The smallest countries can enter a selection drawn from their whole territory - San Marino for instance is so small it doesn't have regions.

The other factor which causes some of the confusion is that UEFA requires the national Football Associations to take responsibility for group organisation, finances and logistics, so it's the FAW who are leading the 'hosting' this week, not the South Wales FA. (to continue reading click 'Read More')

Published in Football
Tuesday, 03 April 2018 10:04

South Wales into Europe again

EASTER MONDAY 2nd APRIL. Latham Park, heavy rain.
SOUTH WALES F.A. 2 NORTH WALES COAST F.A. 0 (FAW Regions Cup final)

Of all the FAW's national competitions, the Regions Cup seems to get the least attention. This is odd, as it carries the prize of a place in a UEFA competition. Run over two seasons, select teams of grassroots players from the six Welsh regions contest two groups (north and south) with the two group winners meeting in the final.

The current competition has been running since autumn 2016. Of the twelve scheduled fixtures, only eleven have been played - thankfully the postponed Gwent v West Wales game has no significance, as South Wales had already topped the group table. Will it ever be played now?

In the build-up to the Easter Monday final, publicity and coverage has been scarce: a nice piece on the North Wales Coast squad in the Daily Post is the sum total really. Search on the web and the fixture is virtually impossible to find (even on the FAW site!) though it's had a few mentions on Twitter. Even if Easter Monday had been looking like a fine spring day, the chances of a good turnout at Latham Park are slim to non-existent. As it is, dire warnings of snow, fog, heavy rain are enough to put off all but the most intrepid traveller....

Published in Football
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 07:23

THE REAL ROOTS

SATURDAY 14th OCTOBER. Barry Athletic Ground, mild, cloudy and dry.
BARRY ATHLETIC 2 AFC ABERCYNON 4 (SWFA Senior Cup)
It's always fun to vary the levels of football watched: each has its differing attractions. So from the pinnacle of the game at international level on Monday, five days later I'm down at district level for the South Wales FA Senior Cup, a competition that brings together clubs from ten different local leagues. My chosen tie pits Vale of Glamorgan league against Aberdare Valley League. This is the grassroots - a much over-used term, and indeed often mis-used. Those accustomed to watching English pro football seem to lump all non-league and domestic football together as "grass roots" - indeed I read one blog only this week using this term to describe visits to games at the second tier of Welsh football! I'm six levels lower here today. THIS is he real grass roots. 

Published in Football

SATURDAY 13th JUNE: Cardiff City Stadium - cool and rainy
PONTLOTTYN 1 STM SPORTS 4 (SWFA Promotion Play-off)
Sixteen hours after leaving the scene of a famous Welsh victory, I'm back at the same venue. But today there won't be 33,000 passionate fans in the stadium, and the players won't be millionaire superstars. For this is a match to decide whether the champions of the South Wales Amateur League (STM Sports of Cardiff) or the Senior League winners (Pontlottyn) will take their place in the Welsh League Third Division next season.

Published in Football
Sunday, 18 May 2014 06:32

WHEN WINNING ISN'T ENOUGH (2)

SATURDAY 17th MAY: the GenQuip Stadium, warm and very sunny.
CWM WELFARE 2 TREFELIN B.G.C. 1 (SWFA Play off, promotion to Welsh League)
More play-off action, but we're three rungs up the football ladder from last night. Today's match is one of the more bizarre features of the pyramid: winning the highly competitive South Wales Amateur or South Wales Senior League isn't enough to earn promotion, as only one Welsh League place is available to south Wales. No matter that none of the west Wales or Gwent champion clubs are eligible for promotion this year, there's still only one place and that means that Amateur League double winners Trefelin must meet Senior League champions Cwm at a 'neutral' ground - although that turns out to be just down the road from Trefelin, at Port Talbot Town's GenQuip stadim.

Published in Football
Sunday, 18 May 2014 06:27

WHEN WINNING ISN'T ENOUGH (1)

FRIDAY 16TH MAY: Sully Sports Ground - mild and pleasant evening
CARDIFF COSMOPOLITAN 2 CEFN CRIBWR B.C. 1; DYNAMO ABER 8 GLYNCORRWG 0 (SWFA Play off tournament)
A lovely late spring evening and there are few nicer spots to spend it than Swanbridge / Sully between Penarth and Barry. This is the venue used by the South Wales FA for their play-offs for promotion to level 6 of the pyramid, which means local 'district league' champions seeking promotion to the South Wales Amateur or Senior Leagues.

Published in Football

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