by Dan Cope
UNIVERSITY of South Wales current Head of Sport and former USW Men’s 1st manager, Steve Savage, has been appointed as Pontypridd Town AFC’s Director of Football.
The club has strong links with the university with a number of players, including Luke Sylvester & Morgan Davies, representing both USW and Pontypridd. USW Football Coaching & Performance Lecturer – Jonathan Jones is the manager of Pontypridd, taking over from Barry Town United Coach and USW Men’s 1st Head Coach Lee Kendall . As well as that, the club is using USW’s Sports Park as it’s home ground due to the connections Savage already had with The Dragons’ sporting advisor, Max James
Savage said: “Max James came to see me 3 or 4 years ago to talk about bringing the club from Ponty Park to the Sport Park due to the clubs ambitious to continue through the welsh leagues so the club played a successful season at the sport park on our grass pitch and gained promotion to the JD Cymru South but unfortunately due to a change in the criteria the grass pitch at the sport park didn’t meet the championship standards but now we’ve developed a new match 3G facility at the Sport Park for our students and the wider community, so Pontypridd have returned.”
Shortly after Pontypridd’s return to the Sport Park, it seemed a naturally link up for Savage to continue to help the club progress on & off the pitch by becoming their new DOF.
He said: ”Then it was a question of whether or not I could help with player recruitment, putting a structure around the club, help with the youth system which is excellent due to Dan Bloodworth, but maybe help create an academy which would also benefit our students providing on site work based learning opportunities which are linked to their academic courses”
Despite the strong links between the club and the university, Savage maintained that it will not be a student club, calling Pontypridd “a club for the community.”
Savage said: “I want to support in continually improving the club, looking at the club structure, player recruitment and enhancing the already impressive youth section. That involves supporting the club and JJ (Jonathan Jones), but also as the Head of Sport at the university, I will be looking at how the club can support the university and the link can help Lee Kendall with his men’s first team competing in the BUCS programme.”
He added: “That linkup will be very useful for both parties but do I think it will be a fully student team? No, that’s not what the ambitions are, it’s a community club with a mix of students and non students.”
The Dragons currently play in the JD Cymru South which is the second division of Welsh football and Savage aims to help Pontypridd reach the JD Welsh Premier League.
He said: “I know the club are really ambitious with one of the aims being to ultimately reach the Welsh Premier League, which will be very challenging but I hope with what is already in place, a new home at USW Sport Park, this new role linking up key areas and with a bit of fortune at the right times along the way it could be a really exciting journey for us all”.
Savage added: “We have to be mindful of how difficult it will be and how competitive the JD Cymru South league is with some fantastic clubs and clubs I know well given that USW have links with a few of them given our students are part of their teams, and these excellent links will continue, but can Pontypridd Town AFC get to the Welsh Premier League? Absolutely why not, and I want to be part of the team on & off the pitch that helps them realise their ambition.”