by Tom Pritchard
AHEAD of today’s BUCS Championship final against Hartpury, USW Men’s 1st manager Steve Savage talks new coach, a changing culture and how important the squad dynamic is.
A 3-2 win against rivals Cardiff Metropolitan University in the last four booked USW’s place in the showpiece final in Nottingham.
Last season, the team finished third in the BUCS Premier South, and were knocked out by Met in the semi-finals.
Coach Kendall’s influence
The arrival of Lee Kendall has helped to inspire an upturn in form, as they won the Premier South unbeaten and now stand one game away from a league and cup double.
Savage explained how the arrival of Kendall has helped to change the culture around the team.
“Bringing Lee Kendall in was really important, having somebody in full-time who can enhance a programme in the wonderful facilities here at the University.
“It was important we had somebody on the grass with the players to develop their own learning, their ability to understand game plans, personally and professionally – and its clearly worked.”
In what has been a fruitful campaign to date for the University, it would be easy for Savage to select a highlight, a stand-out moment.
Despite this, he said: “For me, the entire season. Winning the league going unbeaten is phenomenal, the players have been outstanding.
“To commit to a full-time programme, to get up early doors, they’ve shown huge commitment and desire to do well for the University.”
The team’s desire and will to succeed was displayed in their last two cup games.
They netted an extra-time winner against Stirling, and in the semi-final against Cardiff Met they held off a strong fightback from a team that last year achieved a league and cup double.
The squad features students who have made very different journeys to eventually arrive at the university, and this is something which Savage takes great pleasure in.
“The dynamic of the group is really important. It’s not just about being a good football player, it’s about being a good human being – a good person.
“I enjoy it, I like the diversity of the range of backgrounds where the students come from.”
University of South Wales take on Hartpury University at Basford United’s Greenwich Avenue in the BUCS Championship final today. Kick-off is at 19:45.