By Jamie Ridley Smith (Head Coach)
22nd April, 2016… With just two minutes to go against Cardiff, we were under pressure. Wave after wave of attack came at us and we were up against it. Everyone behind the ball, running themselves into the ground. The fans, dressed in head to toe in Swansea green, were our twelfth man – their yells of encouragement spurred us on. This sense of togetherness from the fans was something that ran throughout the squad. We were a unit, we were one. Time ran unbearably slowly that day. The last few seconds dragged on before the sea of green that surrounded us began to flood onto the pitch as the shrill of the referee’s whistle was blown to signal our win. Players were mauled with drunken embraces. All from people they’d never met, who were just delighted to witness a 2-1 victory over Cardiff. Players were lifted onto fans’ shoulders as the green smoke began to envelope us. The elation of players and fans together made that the best moment of my University career.
This year is no different for the players. We expect hard work, desire and passion from everyone. However, it is different for me. Due to injury, I have taken the step from player to Head Coach, alongside Manager Luke Braiden. He has assembled a squad, picked from the eighteen Intramural teams, based on recommendations from captains and referees alongside his own knowledge of the players in the league. This group of lads have been training under our watch for the best part of a month now.
We have played two practice matches before the Easter break, against a Lecturers Varsity XI and the SUMFC 5s, both which ended in 5-1 victories. With many fantastic performances in both training and practice matches, the lads have really given us a selection headache. With a mix of experience in the squad, ranging from first years to veteran striker Lewys Thomas – taking part in his fifth Varsity match. Quite simply, we have our work cut out to pick the best sixteen for the match day squad.
This quandary is reflected by Braiden, who thinks that this may be the best set of players that Intramural Varsity has had at its disposal in the last few years, since ‘the squad is so talented this year. It’s so hard to find any weak links in the squad. It’s all about getting the best out of those players and making them both mentally and physically prepared for the big day.’
Over the Easter break, like many BUCS sides, we are getting the team together for a week of training. The players ought not be too daunted by the planned schedule, which includes some fitness; both on the grass and the beach if the rain stays away! However, the most important thing for us is that the lads enjoy themselves and look forward to training and matches. Playing with a smile on their faces makes all the difference. It brings confidence which in turn brings a great spectacle.
We promise fast, attacking football that will be exciting to watch, because the day is as much about the players as it is the fans. The fans will have a great day watching our players play, watching exciting football and hopefully, watching us thump Cardiff!!
Come down and support the lads!
Green and White Army!