Llandaff City and Whitecross Comprehensive represent the Bluebirds at Etihad Stadium

Cardiff City were represented by Llandaff City and Whitecross Comprehensive at the home of the 2014 Barclays Premier League Champions on Tuesday, as they competed in the Premier League schools tournament at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.

After nine days of preliminary rounds at the beginning of 2014, Cardiff City Community and Education Foundation engaged with well over 1300 pupils across South Wales in the Premier League Schools initiative held in conjunction with the Premier League and New Directions Education

Of the 147 teams that battled it out for a chance to play in the National Finals, it was Llandaff City Church in Wales and Whitecross Comprehensive who stepped out onto the home ground of the 2014 Barclays Premier League Champions, to represent Cardiff City at The Etihad Stadium. 

Whilst Llandaff competed in the U11s Mixed Division, Whitecross were competitors in the U13s Girls – both, nonetheless treated to the experience of a lifetime as they headed northbound in first-team fashion. 

After being picked up from their respective schools on Monday morning in the brand new official Cardiff City team bus, the journey up the M6 was made that extra bit special with televised well wishes and words of encouragement from members of the Bluebirds squad. 

Replicating away-game procedures both schools, refreshed from an overnight stay, headed to Etihad Stadium on Tuesday morning. Vincent Kompany showed his support for the tournament by announcing the groups in a draw prior to the event that saw Cardiff City drawn against Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and West Ham in Group B. 

To the tournament…

It was Southampton up first for the Bluebirds, and although each team started off playing some exciting football, both games ended with an unfortunate result mirrored across the teams, as both first clashes ended with a 1-0 defeat. 

Nonetheless, the spirited youngsters headed into their second matches against Spurs. This time it saw a better outcome for Llandaff who managed a 1-0 victory, with Whitecross’ girls falling to a second 1-0 defeat.

It was however, third round lucky for Whitecross, as the tables turned and the girls got off the mark with a fantastic 3-0 victory over leaders Liverpool. The Reds, however got the better of Llandaff, as they bagged themselves a 2-1 win. 

In the final game of the group stages, Cardiff City faced West Ham – both teams battling it out and giving their absolute all. Llandaff did extremely well to secure a 2-0 win, but despite a valiant effort in coming back from a two-goal disadvantage, Whitecross  just failed to grab a final victory with The Hammers taking the points, as the game ended 3-2.

Unfortunately, the Bluebirds didn’t manage to advance past the group stages in Manchester, however, Cardiff City Schools Coordinator, Joel Hutton who travelled with the teams, shared his elation in both sides’ performances on the big day.

“The talent on show today has been outstanding, there are so many youngsters with so much potential," said Joel. "We’re all extremely proud of both schools here representing Cardiff City. They’ve been a credit to their schools and to the Club.

“The opportunity to play at The Etihad, where the current Champions of the Barclays Premier League have welcomed many of the best footballers in the world, is something I am positive none of the children will ever forget.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to New Directions for their support during the initial stages of the tournament alongside the Foundation, and also the Premier League for accommodating such a thoroughly unique experience for all.”

Victorious on the day and crowned Premier League Schools Champions, were Everton in the U13s Girls and Liverpool in the U11s Mixed Divisions. 

The Premier League has granted Cardiff City Foundation a sum, totalling above £250,000 upon the Bluebirds’ ascension into top-flight football last season. As well as broadening potential reach to those in education, the funding has also gone towards creating opportunities for youngsters in hard-to-reach areas.

The Community Foundation extends their greatest congratulations to all the participants who have played throughout the tournament and are delighted with the level of participation, which has driven Cardiff City to break the Premier League record for engagement.