FOOTBALL fever is set to continue in Wales post-Euros as Cardiff gears up to host the 2017 Champions League final, with Cardiff Met Ladies FC the only Welsh team playing in the Women's UEFA Champions League qualifiers.
Since winning the Welsh Premier Women's League title for the third successive season, the team hopes to progress to the prestigious tournament itself, with the next rounds taking place in October. The team has never progressed beyond the qualifying stages in this tournament before, but are at the top of their game in Wales after an undefeated season run that ended with winning their recent title in the Premier League, which is the highest in Wales.
The UEFA Champions League final is set to be the biggest sporting event in the world in 2017 and is one of the most high-profile events ever to be held in Wales.
Cardiff Met's Group 3 qualifying games for the Women's UEFA Champions League tournament will all be held at the National Indoor Athletics Centre (NIAC) at Cardiff Met's Cyncoed campus, while the Serbians and Bulgarians will play at Barry Town's ground on the final day of the round.
Cardiff Metropolitan University's sport facilities are world-class and set to be developed further in the coming years with a major investment at the Cyncoed campus.
As well as being used by students, the high quality facilities are open to all for hire and for community use. The University hosts Dragon Camps during the Easter and Summer school holidays at NIAC for girls and boys aged 4 – 14 years which are run by qualified, experienced University sports coaches and school teachers.
Cardiff Met also has a strong reputation for excellence in women's sport across the board, with rugby, football, judo, gymnastics and netball all being represented at world-class level.
In 2014, Cardiff Met signed a Joint Venture Agreement with the City Council to transfer the council's Sports Development Team, Sport Cardiff to Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Sport Cardiff's Girls Together campaign, which launched in March this year, aims to encourage women of all ages across Cardiff to take part in more sporting activity.
Speaking about the UEFA Champion's League campaign, Kerry Harris, Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching at Cardiff Met and the women's football team coach, said: "To have the chance to host and play in these qualifying rounds is a fantastic opportunity for us as a club and the University.
"We were delighted to win the Women's Welsh Premier League for the third consecutive season and believe it is testament to the commitment we have from players, staff and the university to female sport.
"I think this consistency of our results is also reflective of the programme we have here at Cardiff Met and the extensive Sport Science support structures. Preparation going into the qualifying rounds will be both a challenging and an exciting time for us all."
Like several of her teammates who have progressed from being Cardiff Met undergraduates to Post graduates and Masters students, Club Secretary Sophie Scherschel is a part time Masters student in Sport, Body and Society, since graduating in Sport & PE.
She said: "This is our third successive year competing in the tournament and our fourth time in five years. We feel proud to reach this stage again. It is testament to the hard work that the players and staff put in throughout the season.
"It can be difficult at times for all involved in the team to manage their time and commitments as completely unpaid players and juggling studies and jobs alongside playing. We see competing in such a prestigious competition as our reward for another long and hard battled season.
"As ever, the team is in good spirits. We have been on an intense training programme since July 4th and now we're nearing the competition which is the fun part for us as players and the part we keep in the back of our mind during those tough sessions.
"As Welsh Champions we are still the lowest seeded team but know if we apply ourselves and work hard as the 'underdogs' as such we could find ourselves in a great position potentially and qualifying for the next round. We are really excited."