The Cardiff Bay Warriors FC, a Welsh Somaliland team from Cardiff has joined Real Madrid and Lyon in being crowned Champions League winners for 2021-2022.
Cardiff Bay Warriors beat Leicester Atletico in a dramatic penalty shootout in the Somali British version of Europe’s top competition.
“The tournament started nine months ago, and to win it feels unreal,” said Warriors manager Ahmed Noor.
The Somali British Champions League was established in 2018 to bring together the best mainly Somali teams in the UK.
The Cardiff Bay Warriors FC team formed in 2019 and is made up of mainly players of Somaliland heritage, born in Wales, and who have come together as a team to play in competitions across the UK and Europe.
The Warriors’ route to Sunday’s final at Hertford Town FC was far from straightforward, and Noor admits he has a few more grey hairs.
After completing the group stages and winning the quarter-final, they came from 5-3 behind in the first leg of their semi-final to win 9-8 on penalties against a team from East London.
And in the final, it took a last-minute equalizer to take the game to extra time and then to penalties, which they won 3-2.
A brilliant video of the Warriors traveling to the second leg semi-final in London and their sheer joy at their victory perfectly demonstrates the togetherness and sense of community the team possesses.
Watch that video below
In front of a vociferous following from Wales, decked out in Welsh flags, the game saw the Cardiff Bay Warriors show exactly why their determination resilience, and unshakeable belief has taken them so far in the competition.
“As a coach standing on the sidelines, they are going to give me a heart attack,” Noor told BBC Sport Wales.
“They never do it the easy way, I have aged about 10 years!
“But we have a motto in our team where we keep believing, we never stop trying and we have that desire right until the very end.”
Noor said the team got together just before Covid and after playing in their first tournament they realized they were not at the level they needed to be.
“We started developing players and doing match analysis on strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “I didn’t expect to get from where we were then to where we are now so quickly.
“We are 100 percent about promoting our heritage and we try to inspire the youth in our community. They are buzzing right now!
“Two hundred people traveled from Cardiff for the final and we could have filled many more coaches.
“We got back at 2am and the coaches dropped us back in our community. There was a police van on the road and they put their sirens on and congratulated us, I guess they had seen it on social media.
“It shows the power of sport is huge, it brings people together.”
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