Our remit, after a successful 2017, which culminated with SC 2017 receiving an award from the FA, was to produce a tournament that was bigger, further reaching whilst remaining true to our ethos of Unity, Diversity and Inclusivity.
We received applications for 92 teams across 20 community clubs, with representation nationally. We immediately recognised the challenge in creating tiers that would result in over 275 fixtures, but a challenge that we relished.
Having overseen a tricky combination of excel formulas to fit the sequences and timings, our team proceeded to set up the pitches according to FA guidelines in the twilight of the night.
The day finally arrived, and as I nervously walked from pitch to pitch checking every last detail, the magnitude of the task ahead for the day dawned as the suns rays pierced the academy.
From the quiet serene surroundings of the early hours, the teams arrived, fully kitted and ready for it all. A team of 9 referees and 30 pitch Marshalls prepared and we kicked off.
Our most popular Tier was the 7-8 year olds which had a total of 24 teams across 4 groups. Some of the standard of football was outstanding, and the deserved winners were Northwood FC, with the Chalfont FC winning the plate. However the most pleasing aspect was to see the number of new entrants to the tournament including Harrow Stars, Westwood Park and Northwood F.C.
At the same time as the above, the older years (15-16 years old) kicked off their league on the aptly named Maracana pitch.There were 10 entrants and ultimately the team from Leicester prevailed with some outstanding performances from Mehdi who was awarded the MVP for that tier.
Arguably the highlight of the morning was the participation of our Under 6’s (Cubs) which drew huge crowds to the delight of the children and coaches alike. Whilst there was no formal final, the reality is they were all winners and were recognised in a bright ceremony, as each excited cub got a medal for their efforts. The future is bright.
In the morning, the remaining pitches saw the commencement of the 11-12 year category (Tier 3) which was keenly competed across 18 teams with a diverse representation.
This tier produced the highest scoring performances with a total of 125 goals over 50 matches!!
After a hard fought championship, Salaam Cup debutants Singh Sabba Slough emerged victorious over London Colney, with Nizar deservedly taking the MVP award. In the plate final, Chalfont narrowly pipped Hyderi to the title.
The afternoon session saw the 9-10 year olds and 13-14 year olds begin their quest for salaam cup glory.
The 9-10 year olds Tier (Tier 2) was contested in the Yokohama and Stade De France pitches. The atmosphere indoors was raucous, the football was crisp and the groups were closely contested. Ultimately, Northwood F.C. prevailed over IGK in the final, with Zac taking home a deserved MVP award. The plate final saw Harrow stars defeat IGK 1.
The 13-14 year olds was a combative Tier with only 4 teams per group. As a result, there was no margin for error and this was demonstrated by the intensity and ferocity of the matches.
Ultimately, in the early evening rays of beauty, the last game of SC 2018 was concluded with a Harrow stars victory with the MVP going to Max, who belied his young age by turning in some excellent performances. Another debutant CFA completed an impressive performance by winning the plate and celebrating with the loudest of cheers at the presentations.
The challenge of completing a set of fixtures involving significant overlap of fixtures across various tiers, is no mean feat. To that effect, it would be amiss not to mention my wonderful team of Marshalls and runners, without whom this would not have been possible.
Whilst we can reflect on a successful day, planning for an improved SC2019 has already begun. In my mind, I follow the Alex Ferguson school of thought which was:
“Enjoy the day and when it’s over, start planning for the next one the next day”
With best wishes