As Cardiff Met University embark on their début campaign in the Welsh Premier League, we sent our journalist Matthew James to interview Met’s number one goalkeeper, Will Fuller, on the unique club and their ambitions for the coming season.
What’s the difference between Cardiff Met Uni and the other clubs in Wales (ie signing players, club structure etc)?
Cardiff Met FC as a club is made up entirely of current students and alumni members who are no longer studying at the university. As a club we don’t sign external players, nobody is paid and we always look to promote and develop from within. Historically we had a 3 year cycle of players as they studied at the university and then left, more recently however, we have 11 players who have continued on to postgraduate courses, masters and PhDs, which has helped with stability. As a Cardiff Met player, the expectation is to commit for both the Welsh League and BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) teams, which means we play games on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
What would constitute a successful season for Met in 2016/17?
As a group, we’re always told we have never arrived, that we need to be constantly improving and are always looking for more, so whilst this is our first season in the Welsh Premier League, we don’t feel as if we’ve made it and won’t be here to make up the numbers. That said, we’re aware of the size of the challenge and the quality that is in the league and will be looking to secure our WPL status for the following season.
What are Met doing to raise their profile in the local area and beyond?
The club is very keen to raise its profile within Cardiff and beyond as an effort to promote the Welsh Premier League and football as a whole in the south of the country. It’s a fantastic time for football in Wales with the success of the national team and we’re hoping that we can use that to our advantage. We’re very active on our social media platforms, both Twitter and Facebook letting people know about games and what’s going on with the club. We’re also receiving great support from Radio Cardiff, especially OB’s Saturday Sports Show who will be following us throughout the season.
Which team(s) are you most looking forward to playing next season?
It’s always good to test yourself against the best so personally I’m looking forward to playing TNS, they’re a footballing side like ourselves so that will be a good battle. I’m also looking forward to the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day games and visiting lots of new grounds along the way.
What is the mood in the camp like as we await the first game on the 14th August?
The boys are really looking forward to getting started, we’ve just finished our 4th week of preseason and have had games against Taffs Well, Barry, Merthyr and Haverfordwest so far. The sharpness and fitness is coming along nicely and we’ll be ready to go on the 14th at Airbus.
Do you feel there is a certain stigma attached to supporting a University team and how can the club remove the preconceptions that Cardiff Met isn’t a ‘proper’ club?
Since I’ve been at the club our main support has come from friends and family although over the last six months there definitely seems to be more support from local people for which we’re very grateful. My response to those that say we’re not a proper club would be simply to give us a chance! Anyone who has watched us over the last few seasons will tell you that we try to play attractive attacking football at our Cyncoed home venue and it’s always a welcoming atmosphere at the club. We may not currently have the history and community impact of some other local clubs but we’re trying to create that slowly but surely.
Do you think that experience will be factor during the coming season as none of the team have played in the WPL before?
There will certainly be plenty of new challenges and experiences for us all next season and our most senior player is only 25 years old, but as a group and individuals we’ve learnt a lot as we’ve moved through the leagues from Welsh League Division 3. There may be the odd case of naivety but we’re lucky to have the guidance of a good management team and support team who will be helping us as much as possible.
It will most certainly be interesting to watch the university side as the season develops and to see if they can hold their own and buck the trend of having to spend money to reach the top.