Last September over a shisha and mint tea we sat there planning the football season ahead. At that stage it was suggested we should hold the Salaam Cup again. The 2016 edition was so well organised and executed that in my mind it could not be improved upon. After some arm twisting, houmous and extra portion of chips later I agreed to head this remarkable project and see if we could deliver a product as good as the 2016 tournament. After assembling what can only be described as a fantastic core team of men and women we embarked on recruiting volunteers – who during the course of the process were fondly referred to as Salaamteers – to join this adventure.
Throughout the process we welcomed additions to all the teams and each and every individual contributed to what ultimately was a landmark event for us as a community and football club. The idea behind the SC2017 was to expand upon the giant strides made by SJFA in the football and wider community. Links had been made and relationships forged with the likes of Belmont, Chalfont and Indian Gymkhana. A friendly tournament between the latter and SJFA led to a joint nomination at the annual BEDSA awards ceremony. It was decided between the tournament committee and SJFA that alongside our national community teams we should extend invitations to Belmont, Chalfont, Indian Gymkhana and TFA. The dual aspect of increased competition with varying abilities that can only improve their long term skill sets and the forging of friendship into the local community at a time when mainstream relations are unstable to say the least. Fast forward to today – over 500 players watched by at least a further 1000 spectators not only from our community but also by the neighbouring community and importantly the football community. children between the ages of 7 to 16 to competed in over 8 hours of football for 8 trophies.
Special guests in varying capacities from Kevin Coleman, head of the FA diversity to Shiekh Mohammed Abbas Panju to the President of COEJ. Alongside the football we created a festival atmosphere by facilitating stalls from catering to face paint to giant inflatables we aimed to cater for all sexes and all ages. The response was phenomenal with huge support from all quarters and I must thank the stall holders for their support and hope that they will support SJFA and Salaam Cup in the future. Huge waves of gratitude must be extended to the Players and coaches of all teams that helped make this day special, the Salaamteers who worked tirelessly all day and night in their purple t shirts to make life easy for the rest of us, the volunteers in the car park and on the stalls and in the kitchen. We cannot underestimate the amount of selfless hard work volunteers put in and without them this event could not have taken place. Behind every major event there is a remarkable core team and every single one of them contributing and executed their expertise to ensure a seamless and smooth Salaam Cup 2017 was presented. We hope moving later into the year and into 2018 that the links, relationships and friendships formed between communities will continue and that SC2018 will be even bigger and better than this year.