View From The Ninian’s Dan Moffat had the pleasure of talking to Cardiff fan favourite Sol Bamba at the CCS on Saturday, as part of Jeff Stelling’s March for Men in aid of Prostate Cancer. The Sky Sports presenter was on his third marathon of the week, with this one taking place in South Wales. Starting at Rodney Parade, the home of Newport County AFC, before heading towards Cardiff and then onwards to the finish line outside the Principality Stadium.
Sol joined Jeff and the rest of the walkers from the CCS onwards. Here’s what he had to say when asked about the importance of raising awareness of Prostate Cancer, his recovery from injury and his thoughts of City’s start to the season.
Great to see you here today Sol. Why have you come along?
I’m here today to talk about prostate cancer. I think it’s important for men to talk about it. It’s no shame, people have to be proud to talk about it and that allows us to help people who do suffer from that type of cancer.
A lot of men in particular aren’t aware of how dangerous a condition it is, so how important is it that we talk about it?
Yes, even myself I wasn’t aware of it until a few years ago, so its very important to make people aware of it. People like Jeff, Matt and the football clubs that Prostate Cancer UK work with talk about it to help encourage other men to come out and talk about it.
Is that something you try to encourage in the dressing room here at Cardiff? To speak about such issues and make sure everyone is checking what needs to be checked?
Yes, absolutely. The lads here all want to make sure we’re alright physically, but also looking after our mental health, too. We talk regularly in the dressing room about things and even with opposition players, as football is one big family. Everyone wants to make sure everyone is okay.
How did it feel getting back to playing football (albeit a 5-aside) earlier this week and how much are you missing playing for Cardiff?
Training with the lads this week has made me realise how much I miss it. Even when the Gaffer would make a decision and I would moan about it, I’ve missed that too! It’s good to be back. I’m back in full training with the lads now. Obviously it’ll be a few weeks before I’m back playing again, but I’m back fit and healthy and I’m happy to be training.
How big of a blow was it when you heard how long you would be out for and did it ever feel like a threat to your career?
Absolutely not. There has never been any doubt, I knew I was going to come back. I know I’m 34, but I feel great and I’ve never felt so fit. Unfortunately it’s an injury that can happen, but I was always coming back. Honestly I’m planning to play until I’m in my 40’s, so I’m not going to stop anytime soon.
You mentioned the gaffer there. How close a relationship do you have with Neil and has he kept in close contact with you?
Yes, absolutely. Neil, the club and all the lads have been brilliant for me throughout my injury, supporting me and making sure I was okay. That has helped me a lot to come back. I cant wait to repay them, come back fit, help them win games and help them get where we want to be, which is getting promoted.
Are you relishing the chance to fight your way back into the starting XI against Aden Flint and Sean Morrison?
That’s the great thing about competition for places, which is the case for everyone in the team. I have no right to come in and play, I have to fight for my place and I’m ready for that. I’ve had that throughout my career and I just want to get back fit and help the club.
With a number of the team’s key players currently out (Neil Etheridge, Marlon Pack etc), how can that affect the squad’s morale, if at all?
Obviously, when important players are out injured, it does affect the team, but we know we have a big squad and other important players. Someone’s misfortune is another players chance to come in and do well, its part and parcel of football. Of course, we don’t want players to be injured, but the squad we have can cope with it and everyone is looking forward to having a fully fit squad again.
With the introduction of VAR in the Premier League, I’m interested to hear your view on it and how big of an impact do you think it would have had on Cardiff’s Premier League season?
I think it’s the right thing for the game, but it has to be used properly. I wish it was there last season because we probably would have stayed up, as VAR would have cleared up a few situations and we would have had more points. The way it is used in Europe, particularly in France and Italy, where the referee can go over and check the monitor himself does certainly help. I think, going forward, that’s what the Premier League needs, but I’m definitely for VAR.
Finally Sol, although we haven’t made the strongest of starts, what are your aspirations for this season?
Of course, the aim is promotion. We enjoyed the Premier League last season, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy after being relegated. We’re only six games in and remember it’s a long hard season. We always say it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I am confident that we will be there or there abouts come the end of the season.