SJFA were represented by 6 teams in the London Eagles FC Christmas Cup 2016 on Saturday 17th December 2016.
In addition to the Managers’/Coaches’ masterful writing skills we witnessed the descriptive and eloquent reports by the engaged and supportive parents. We were pleased to note that our mothers are now involved in contribution to the SJFA stories and hopeful as well as confident that this is not the last time. SJFA once again takes its hat off for this commitment and support.
Following is the official video clip compiled by the organisers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT6SEM-floI
U7: They Bonded, They Conquered
U8: Hairstyles that would give Pogba a run for his money
U10: Without the Sheepskin coat & the Typical Indian Khoja kid
U12: Eagle flown in from Poland
U13: Diversity and Inclusion
U7 – They Bonded, They Conquered
Rayyaan Ali Merali
Muhammad Mahdi Govani
Coach: Hasnain Merali
As the Under 7’s lined up to walk on to the pitch, they could see the conditions were not ideal. Foggy, damp pitches, very chilly and a hostile crowd directly behind the goal they were shooting towards. With many of the crowd cheering before the matches had even started with endless bellowing of encouragement, snacks on demand and camera phones throughout. All teams that SJ were to face had an obvious physical presence and stature. They all knew their positions, some teams even had kits with individual names on them, coaches with prepared instructions and most were enduring mini-drills before the eventual kick offs. A serious game for many, but for SJ the focus was on social banter, brotherhood and sharing chocolate fingers. Could they surprise the other teams and let their feet do the talking?
Match 1: SJ vs Gryf Slough FC (1-0)
A fairly even start against Gryf but within only a few minutes, SJ surprise the onlooking jeering crows to take the lead! Rayyan open’s the score with a sweet low driven shot from outside the area. There was no doubting the success of that shot, the moment it left his foot. Head down, fully focused, 1-0 to SJ. The goal galvanised and warmed up SJ spirits, minute by minute they kept the pressure up especially with Muhammad Mahdi and Aadam working particularly hard in midfield. Then as SJ pressed higher, the shots began to reign in. Shot after shot but SJ struggled to get the second goal cushion, Gryf’s goal keeper showing his worth with a number of top saves to keep SJ out. SJ were now taking it in turns in midfield to drive through players and shooting on site but still no second goal. Lone behold, Gryf reorganised themselves after hearing their coach fervently giving out strict orders to apply more physical pressure in midfield. SJ were now under pressure at the back but their defenders Yusuf, Hossain and goalkeeper Ammar stood resolute as they held on for a well earned 1-0 victory. SJ were not quite in their stride yet and the communication needed to increase but the coach was happy with the collective efforts and regrouped the team for a debrief and rest.
Match 2: SJ vs Reading Tigers FC (6-0)
The Tigers looked poised like wild cats and ready to go, with their team setting up very well in their positions. Another physically imposing team that looked focused but surely SJ were feeling confident after the last victory? Only one or two minutes passed and Aliraza wasted no time in pinching the ball in midfield and driving towards their goal and attempted a distant yet stinging effort which the goalkeeper could only parry in to the path of an oncoming poacher that was Aadam. A easy finish in the bottom right of Reading’s goal. 1-0 to SJ, but could they capitalise this time? Reading were not taking no for an answer by really making their presence known in midfield with waves of encouragement from the crowd. SJ recomposed themselves and took their time on a side free kick near the half way line. Hossain lined this one up but not for a side pass, rather a megablaster that shot right through the crowd of SJ and Reading players and rifled straight passed the goalkeeper, what a shot! Deja vu? – Aliraza drove through the midfield to again try the long ranger, the call hit the post, skimmed across the goal line but fell short of a goal, but who was there to slam it in? Yep that poacher again, Aadam! Surely the easiest goal he’ll ever score. As the game progressed, SJ’s coach was just in awe, from the defence through to the attackers, the pressure was maintained, no mercy from SJ as again they added to the score with another from that boy Aadam. Yet again, the defence of Alimehdi and Muhammad Mahdi providing the opportunities for the front men to add to their tally. Aliraza then collected the ball from midfield but began to run wide, to play it back into the center surely? Instead he looked down and unleashed a rocket of a shot, it flew through the air and slammed into the top corner of the goal and whilst the goalkeeper is in shock, the Coach was gleaming with delight. As people were busy verifying the score, AliMehdi maintained his focus with a beautiful low shot drive to finish the game 6-0.
Match 3: SJ vs Playmaker Southampton (2-2)
The most physical team SJ have met thus far, with absolute giant defenders staring down at our strikers, the game was not going to be easy. As expected, the match started with crunching tackles that could be heard from beyond the fences! Never fear though, when Aadam is here – the poacher striked again with an instinctive shot to slot the ball home for a 1-0 lead. Southampton fought back with immense pressure on the defence. Muhammed Mahdi, Rayyaan, and Yusuf literally putting their bodies on the line to stop the multiple shots being fired by Southampton. The pressure from Southampton remained relentless with their main tactic being to give it their “Number 5” player who simply shot from anywhere, his shooting power was that good. Soon enough Southampton drew level with one of his belters. 1-1, game on! A cheeky effort from Aliraza from the half-way line, worth a try but just wide. Number 5, yet again for Southampton with another trademark long range effort, SJ were now 2-1 down, but did they have the character to come back? The minutes were running out, the team were working hard but the equalizer seemed a distant hope, Southampton had simply been too physically strong. Ammar and Aadam were not having any of it though, working their socks off in midfield yet again which eventually allowed Aliraza to collect the ball and score with literally the last kick of the game, SJ draw 2-2!
Match 4: SJ vs Dywizjon 303 FC White (2-0)
A change of goalkeeper with Yusuf between the sticks and Coach delivering his final galvanising team talk. If they were to win this game, they would win the cup but it was no easy task with Dywizjon 303 FC White having the best results of the tournament thus far. Both sides took things seriously with man for man marking for almost five minutes, neither side wanted to let this one go. Tense, close and evenly poised, with the crowd expressing their nervousness through their silence. Aadam took things into his own hands with a run from deep in defence all the way through on goal and slammed a terrific right foot effort against the post, so close yet it remained 0-0. Ammar and AliMahdi demonstrated sheer hard work for their team in midfield. The hard work paid off with Aliraza sneaking in a snapshot in the area to make it 1-0, they could almost smell the cup now. Aadam was a boy on a mission with shot after shot, Dywizjon had no answer to contain this boy. Still only 1-0 was a risk without the comfort of a second goal. Dywizjon dwindled after being so disciplined at the back and Aliraza capitalised by running through an empty defence and with just the keeper to beat, he slotted it home for a 2-0 victory. Rayyaan wanted to join the party though, with a number of long range blasts giving the team a number of rebound opportunities. It wasn’t over yet though, Dywizjon came back into the game, it became end-to-end goal drama with maximum speed of play, leaving the crowd gasping. The game finished 2-0 though and the coach couldn’t be prouder of his players. They came, they worked as a team, they bonded and they conquered – Trophy time.
Ashiq Damani, Parent, U7
U8: Hairstyles that would give Pogba a run for his money
Part 4 of this series is very unique with two people writing a report for the same thing, totally independent and without any liaison. Yet the outcome allowed us to weave them together neatly. Furthermore, we are pleased to note that our mothers are now involved in contribution to the SJFA stories and hopeful as well as confident that this is not the last time. SJFA once again takes its hat off for this commitment and support.
In the depths of the wilderness known as Alperton – a stone’s throw from Ealing road and a stones thrown from a broken windshield we found ourselves invited to the Christmas Cup.
A foggy cold winter morning brought our amazing under 8s team to Goals in Ealing. The atmosphere was none like they had experienced before in their matches, it was that similar to Mamt except in Polish. There were lots of families around and even more children in team kit’s preparing for their matches. With a slightly later start the boys managed to have a warm up on the free pitch available.
Now this was not any old tournament – this was organised by the local Polish community – Santa Claus, tiger mascots, food stalls and candy floss were just some of the attractions that caught the kids and the coaches attention.
Sticking out like a sore thumb SJ boys, parents and coaches were huddled in a little corner drinking chai like it was going out of fashion in preparation for their forthcoming matches.
The under 8s consisted of 10 teams split into two groups. SJ known in the programme affectionately as Jeffreys Academy were in group 2 with 4 other teams. The format was such that every team would play each other once and after this there would be no knockout competition – keeping in line with the motto of “These are Kids, This is their game, They play for fun”.
The under 8 squad was as follows:
Asad Ali Bandali
These 8 brave warriors set aside certain stereotypes and battled their way through four competitive matches.
Match 1: Jaffery Academy V London Tigers (1-1)
With Amirali in goal Tigers kicked off and headed straight to Deen and Uzayrs great defence they got passed the boys and popped in an early goal in the bottom left corner. Our boys were taken aback at the speed of the goal and stepped up their play with great teamwork between Yacine and Husayn unfortunately the ball was kicked too high and Tigers received a free kick, which was saved through an amazing dive by Amirali. As the opposition had a change of players our boys decided to change their game play, a speedy midfield team of Husayn Deen and Yacine with great passes and dribbling ensured Husayns goal of the tournament, giving Jafferys a 1-1 draw with Tigers. Picking up their pace Tigers went straight for their second goal which was nicely saved by Amirali, both teams had several attempts at shooting but the goals were just not going in, Tigers then attempted one of their final shots which was nicely saved by Amirali, as he passed the ball out to Uzayr, he was knocked down and gained a free kick, the free kick was taken and seconds later the final whistle blew and ended the game with a 1-1 draw.
Match 2: Jaffery Academy V London Eagles (1-2)
With a very noisy crowd on the Eagles side and constant advice from the coach London Eagles kicked off, with Amirali in goal our boys soon had the ball, with great control they moved forward and Yacine was surrounded by the Eagle player who soon managed to take the ball from him and head towards our goal, unphased by this Mehdi went straight in with great defence and kicked the ball out however quickly intercepted by Eagles they managed to score their first goal. As we took center pass Yacine managed to maintain possession of the ball and took it forward, being the only man upfront and surrounded he lost the opportunity to score. Eagles quickly took the ball and dribbled past Haani and tried to score, Amirali reaching high and saving the ball. Asad Ali kicking the ball forward to Yacine who was intercepted by Eagles, they had great teamwork and passing going on and soon attempted to shoot, the ball hit Yacines hand and a penalty was awarded to Eagles. The tension mounted as the crowd cheered on the Eagles, the penalty was taken and just missed Amiralis save, great dive by Amirali but they scored 2-0 to the Eagles. This got our boys adrenalin going and soon after center pass Yacine had positioned himself on the side of the goal, great teamwork by Haani and Asad Ali passing the ball to Yacine and getting a clean shot. Bringing the score to 2-1. Haani and Asadali were very good in defence and the attempts were kept out. Eagles decided to put on 3 new players and fresh legs make all the difference. Soon a free kick was awarded to the Eagles and Haani had amazing defence and kept the ball out passing to Yacine who was once alone upfront he took an attempt at shooting and it was saved by the Eagles goalie. Final whistle blew with a score on 2-1 to Eagles.
Match 3: Jaffery Academy V Zelga (0-2)
With Asadali in goal Zelga kicked off scoring almost immediately from center pass. 1-0. Uzayr keeping possession from center pass attempted to score but was saved by Zelga, they kicked the ball out and Haani intercepted it passing to Deen who was in a brilliant space crossing it to Amirali where Zelga intercepted it and attempted to score. Saved by Asadali, the ball came straight out to Haani who was great at passing to Deen and Uzayr. Soon receiving a free kick the ball was passed to Deen who did an amazing bit of footwork and maintained possession of the ball, went straight for the goal and it was saved, the ball seemed to ping pong between the 2 team goals with great saves from Asadali, and brilliant defence by Amirali. Deen had several attempts at scoring but the Zelga goal keeper was on point and saved every attempt. We did a substitution just as Deen was kicked and went down, Haani and Uzayr came off and Husayn and Mehdi went on, hoping the fresh pairs of legs would help, Deen took the free kick and passed to Mehdi, who lost possession and the ball went into the Zelga zone who maintained good ball control scoring their second goal. 2-0. Moments later we had 2/3 great attempts at scoring but the Zelga keeper out did us every time. Final whistle blew with a 2-0 Defeat.
Match 4: Jaffery Academy V Reading Tigers (0-1)
With a Jaffery kick off the ball was taken forward and a quick attempt was made by Uzayr to shoot but blocked by Reading, with Amirali in goal a couple of attempts were made to score but Amirali outdid their shots along with good defence from Mehdi, and managed to save them. Soon we had taken the ball off reading and kept good passes between our boys, Asadali found himself alone near the goal and lost possession, soon Haani was slide tackled and received a free kick. Intercepted well by Reading they took the ball forward and scored their first goal. 1-0 to reading. We substituted Deen Yacine and Husayn came on and Haani Asadali and Mehdi came off. As this was the final match the boys gave it their all great passing between Husayn Deen and Yacine with all 3 boys taking constant attempts at shooting either to narrowly miss the goal or to be saved by the Reading keeper. Uzayr keeping a great defence and great saves by Amirali through the match, Deen was playing great all over, upfront and midfield as was Yacine, but the defence of the opposition had been stepped up, our boys maintained amazing play in defence and upfront with the final whistle blowing at 1-0.
Our players may not have matched the physique of their counterparts – some barely reaching the knees of their opponents. But in Husayn and Deen they had hairstyles that would give Pogba a run for his money.
Intricate designs off the pitch and intricate footwork on it these boys were a joy to watch. Amirali in goal showing De Gea esque ability in making miraculous saves while Yacine showing great agility in weaving in and out of defenders.
Husayn, Haani and Deen showing skills their dads could only dream of. The trio of Asad, Uzayr and Mehdi passing, running and courageous in challenges proving that even if their mums made them wear woolly hats and tracksuits they were still strong brave little lads.
The passion of these kids was there for all to see and despite results (one draw and three defeats) they were not totally downhearted. Yes there was some frustration but then these are 7 and 8 year olds and no one likes losing – no matter what age they are. Valuable lessons learnt and as long as they are heeded and these boys are nurtured and coached in the right way there is no reason why all of them cannot succeed going forward.
Special mention to the two coaches who were measured and remarkably calm – and to the parents on the side who kept encouraging the boys to play football in the right way and to never give up.
Having been to many tournaments it was amazing to see the level of respect between the kids of all ages, the coaches and also the spectators. It was very well run and the only regret would be that the burgers and hot dogs were not halal!
Report written by:
Azmina Mawjee & a Parent on the side!
U10: Without the Sheepskin coat & the Typical Indian Khoja kid
Part 5 is the last in the series and concludes the SJFA story from the London Eagles Tournament. This report is divided in two sub sections as we were represented by two teams.
In addition to managers/coaches/fathers/mothers, we can now include “uncle” to our list of authors, awaiting the grandparents to join in next time.
SJFA – U10 – Team 1
Abbas Alloo (GK)
Muhammad Aqeel Mavani
This report is brought to you by SJFA’s very own John Motson – Mohammed Siwji – but without the Sheepskin coat…
Group Stage Game 1:
Pilkarskie Nadzieje AP Mielec V SJFA (5 -1)
They say in football that goals change games; with the score at 0-0 the opposition goalkeeper pulled-off a fantastic bottom corner save to deny Ali Dewji. Had this chance gone in the game could have panned out differently. Three quick goals by the opponents, was followed by a consolation goal by striker Husayn Ismail. Trying to get something more from the game left Stanmore open to the counterattack and this game ended 5-1. Our boys played one of the best teams that we’ve come across over the last few months and fought hard to the final whistle never letting their heads drop.
Group Stage Game 2:
SJFA V Playmaker Southampton (3-1)
For the players reading this match report, ask your dad’s what Fergie Hairdryer Treatment was because that’s exactly what you all got from Coach Abbas after the first game. On the evidence of the performance of the second game, it clearly worked. Stanmore started the game on the front foot, not giving any time and space for the opposition. Jaabir Walji and Adam Valjy controlled the defence and limited the opposition to creating any clear chances, while goalkeeper Abbas Alloo was enjoying his cup of tea and biscuits – chocolate digestives in case you’re wondering. Ali Dewji and Husayn Ismail caused the opposition defence countless problems; and the link up play between the two of them was fantastic, with Husayn grabbing himself a hat trick with some sublime finishes. Stanmore had strength in-depth and were able to call on Muhammad Aqeel Mavani and Aqil Karawalli to see out the game. A fantastic performance and a great way to recover from the opening defeat.
Group Stage Game 3:
White Eagles FC V SJFA (2-1)
Stanmore unfortunately started slowly in this game. The first few minutes they could not get hold of the ball and were doing a lot of chasing off the ball. Despite Abbas Alloo’s brilliant saves to keep it at 0-0, the opposition did eventually find a way to take the lead. The goal was the wakeup call Stanmore needed. They started playing some excellent passing football and were soon rewarded with a well-deserved equaliser scored by in-form striker Husayn Ismail. 1 -1, game on. Stanmore dominated from this point creating chance after chance in search for the winner. It was all one-way traffic. Deep into Fergie Time, the opposition scored a lucky goal. A very hard result for the boys – football can be a cruel game at times.
Group Stage Game 4:
London Eagles FC Red V SJFA (2-0)
The game started with a Stanmore kick-off, but somehow Stanmore were 1-0 down within 10 seconds. However, they recovered well and created some chances, and forced the opposition goalie into making good saves. As Stanmore pressed for an equaliser; they were caught on the counter-attack and conceded a late second goal.
Quarter Final :
London Eagles FC White V SJFA (2-1)
Stanmore progressed into the Quarter Final. The game started with it being very tight. Both teams were playing really well defensively. However, two quick goals from the opposition made it a near impossible task for Stanmore to progress into the Semi-Final. Coach Abbas made a tactical switch. Adam Valjy came on to give Stanmore an extra dimension. His hassling of opposition, lead to him creating an assist for Husayn who comfortably slotted past the opposition goalkeeper to set-up an interesting last 3 minutes, Stanmore were now on the front foot and were seeing more of the ball. The final ball just was not there for Stanmore or the loose ball just would not fall for one of the attackers. Despite a good recovery from going 2-0 down Stanmore made a game of it and on another day, could well have equalised… with some Fergie Time!
All in all, the tournament was a fantastic experience for the boys. They will learn from it, train even harder and will come back even stronger in the future IA.
Mohammed “where’s my Sheepskin coat” Siwji
SJFA – U10 – Team 2
It was a cold crisp Saturday morning, and the boys from SJ were invited to play in an international tournament (well, OK, it was us against the Poles).
The atmosphere was great. Stalls for food and drinks were laid out, candy floss and popcorn were on offer too.
The boys were split into two teams, and myself and Saf Valjy were in charge of the following boys:
Bilal Hussain (Goalkeeper)
Sajjad Husayn Kanani
Average age: 8 or 9
Average height: 1m 10cm
Average weight: 40kg
Average build: that of a typical Indian Khoja Shia Ithna Ashari kid
Their opponents (i.e. the rest of the players in the tournament):
Average age: 8 or 9
Average height: 1m 50cm
Average weight: 60kg
Average build: that of an American Footballer
To help you visualise, think of Riad Mahrez versus Nicolas Ottomendi. So you can see the mammoth task we had ahead of us.
The boys to their credit were all pumped up to play, thanks to the pep talk Saf gave. He pointed to our second SJ team and told them they were playing each other, and when the lads came onto the pitch and saw the real opponents, it was too late to run, as the doors were closed.
We played OK in the first game, I think it was down to nerves, and this was the first time these kids were playing together as a team. The opposition was far superior in their passing and in their defending, they played it around like pros and the game ended 4-1 in their favour.
For the second match, we had a better understanding how everyone played and where their best positions were. So we set it up with Bilal in goal, Sajjad Suleman and Jabir Dhalla at the back and Hassan Merali and Alireza Hameer up front, with Sajjad Kanani on the bench for the first 4min, and then swapping for Sajjad Suleman for the second half.
The boys came out with all guns blazing, this time passing the ball as though they had been playing for years, the newcomers to external matches being Bilal Hussain, Jabir Dhalla and Sajjad Kanani playing out of their skins, and the veterans in Alireza Hameer, Sajjad Suleman, and Hassan Merali keeping the whole thing flowing. Bilal Hussain had a great game in goal. The game ended with SJ winning 3-1.
Then came the third game and the same players came out with the same result.
Since we were through to the next phase, I think the boys took the last game easy, and were punished accordingly: 3-1.
We were now through to the next phase, where we would play a team from the other league, and this was our big test. The game started quite evenly, but the opposition had a player who was above all others on the pitch, and it wasn’t a surprise that he dictated the way the game would go. His passing and finishing were clinical, and he took his team to a 4-1 victory.
All in all the boys played really well, and our discipline was exemplary. The boys were laughing and joking with each other in-between matches, and didn’t really worry about who they were playing, as long as they were playing. That showed a sense of belief and a mind set that says “we just want to play”, which was great to see.
Coach – Tier 3, SJFA
U12: Eagle flown in from Poland
What a fantastic opportunity SJFA were presented with on Saturday 17 December to play in The London Eagles Cup and the games took place at Alperton Goals, Wembley.
The following Under 12 squad was selected by manager Fuad (also known as Pep).
Ali Abbas Suleman
Ali Hadi Govani
Husayn Yahya Merali
A total of 5 teams participated in this age category. This included 4 polish teams and one SJFA Team.
It was an exciting day full of action watching Stanmore play eight games against various polish teams (one having flown in from Poland for this event).
The first game was against the “The London Eagles Red”. The hosts looked to be in control, but SJFA continued to put pressure on – ensuring no goals were conceded. There was some fantastic saves by our keeper Ali Abbas Suleman assisted with some great defence by Ali Hadi Govani. Final score 0-0.
What did Pep think about his team’s performance?
“I’m happy with that – he added. I didn’t expect us to play at that level!” The games to follow are going to be more challenging – but we’re going to give it our best shot!
“The London Eagles Yellow” was the next fixture. A young lad in the opposition produced some stunning skill and talent. He was the one to watch out for!! Another fine Messi is in town and proved to be the best player on show amongst all the teams.
The Yellows dominated the game scoring an early goal and shortly after Zia Dewji slotted the ball in the far corner having being setup by Ali Hadi. GOAL!!!!!!
The pressure was on and despite the defence and fantastic keeping by Ali Abbas Suleman – the yellows found multiple opportunities to score. Final score Yellows 5 Stanmore 1.
We interviewed our manager Pep once again and asked him to comment on his teams performance. “Stanmore have drawn one game and lost one game. He labelled the next game as a “must win”. It is not nice being down there – but we need to win matches!
London Eagles White FC took on SJFA in the third game of the first round. Stanmore having lost the previous game, focused all efforts in a strong defence. The strategy worked with no goals conceded – but then just as the final whistle was blown the opposition scored. Final score London Eagles White FC 1 – Stanmore 0.
So what does the final game have to bring for Stanmore? Despite the previous losses – Stanmore battled through their final game of the first round. The team played very well with a lot of enthusiasm. Our keeper was unlucky. One goal bounced back of the keeper and another was from an indirect free kick that touched Ali Abbas. Final score White Eagles FC Team 3 – Stanmore 0.
So what does Pep have to say about the current state of play. “I’m leaving SJFA under 12 after facing The London Eagles this weekend”. No you’re not Pep!!!!!
The return legs against the same opposition to play and Pep and his squad, assisted by none other than Nazir Dewji were now desperate for a win! “I’m ambitious and we need to keep the team positive, says Pep!”
The next three games against the Polish hosts were not easy. Having changed the formation and strategy to be more adventurous upfront resulted in some disappointment.
Nevertheless, Stanmore fought back in each of the second round games. However, having lost all of the next three games there was a glimmer of hope in the final game when Jameel Walji scored a GOAL. The hosts felt threatened and championed back with vigilance. The ref gave a dubious free kick which should have been indirect. However White Eagles FC scored with a direct attempt and ref honoured the GOAL.
Then as Stanmore were pushing for the winner they caught us on the break to score again. Final score White Eagles FC v Stanmore 2-1.
Pep admitted the games were tougher than he imagined but he believes experienced and well drilled teams of this calibre have already helped his team improve various aspects of the game. “The tournament has given our squad today more experience and will no doubt make us stronger. In the last 6 weeks we have played in external games with approx 14 different players and 3 different formats from 9-a-side, 7-a-side and 5-a-side today! Our journey has just begun and our future is being shaped, positively.”
It is unlikely Pep will leave this winter, but if he continues to improve SJFA ‘we may just have to keep him for the upcoming tournament games in 2017!!’
Mustafa Walji – (Un)official reporter for U12’s
U13: Diversity and Inclusion
The London Eagles F.A. Christmas Cup was not just a game of football. It was much more than that, it was about diversity and inclusion. It was an opportunity for a long established community to engage and make friends with another recently established community. This was not just about how to express yourself on the pitch but also how you express yourself with the opposition. So, 48 hours before the tournament the coach went to the local Waterstones to read up on “Polish For Dummies” to prepare for the tournament. He felt he was fully versed on the football front.
It was important for the coach to learn the basics; cześć (hello), nazywam się wuj (my name is Uncle), wiesz, Jerzy Dudek? (do you know Jerzy Dudek?)konieczności ref śmiech (you are having a laugh ref) and gdzie mogę dostać gorącą herbatę waniliową (where can i get some hot vaniila tea). As the coach was learning key phases he knew he had to take full advantage of the situation and expanded his vocabulary to jesteś budowniczym? (are you a builder?), ile będzie pobierać opłaty za przedłużenie loft? (how much do you charge for a loft extension?) and ile! (how much?).
The coach had a lovely wife who was his superwoman. She would make sure he was prepared for match days by providing him a hearty breakfast in the morning. However, things did not go as planned and the coach knew he had to rely on śniadanie (breakfast) and obiad (lunch) at the venue. He just hoped there was an halal option.
The under 13’s kicked off in the afternoon. The coach got there early to mingle with other coaches so he could arrange friendlies in the New Year. As always his players were there on time beaming and ready to kick some leather. During the pre-warm up Zaamin Valjy got injured by just knocking the ball around. Clearly this was a setback for the coach but something he had to manage. The coach was disappointed but not as much as the father who struggled to comprehend how his son could get injured in the pre-warm up, and the son got one of those looks that only a parent could give!
The format for the under 13’s consisted of two groups of four teams with Stanmore Jafferys being put in Group 2. The top two teams would battle it out for the main Cup and the 3rd and 4th teams would battle it out for the Plate. The results for the SJ Boys in Group were as follows:-
London Eagles FC Yellow 3 v Stanmore Jafferys 1 (Sajjad Shabbir)
Stanmore Jafferys 1 (Jawad Khatau) v London Eagles Fc Blue 2
Stanmore Jafferys 1 (Irfan Kanji) v Reading Tigers FC 3
Although the SJ Boys lost all three fixtures, the coach was pleased that the boys gave 100% effort and could have drawn/won at least one of the fixtures. The 1st goal against the Reading Tigers was a lovely 3 pass move leading to a sweet finish which was acknowledged by referee after the match. Although disappointed, the coach could not have asked any more from his boys considering they were a key player down. A special thanks to Imran Karawalli for coming in late into the squad as a goalkeeper as Ali-Abbas was running late from a prior commitment.
The three fixtures from the Plate cup saw the SJ boys lose the first two 3-2 (Irfan Kanji and Imran Karawalli) and 2-1 (Jawad Khatau). Again close encounters that SJ Boys could have easily won but lack of fitness was now playing a part leading to sloppy goals. Before the final fixture the coach asked his players to do one thing for him. To make sure he goes homes to his superwoman with a smile and that is exactly what he did by delivering a 3-1 win with some lovely football and great goals from Sajjad Shabbir x2 and Irfaan Kanji.
The takeaway for the coach was the need for extra fitness work during training and to get the boys to be able to play at their ability from the beginning rather than having to take a few games to warm up. This is something the coach would inshallah implement after the festive break.
The coach was expecting better results during the tournament but he came away with a couple of positives. Boys who still played football with a smile for him and he found Wojciech who provided him a quote for a loft extension and negotiations are still ongoing.
Another memory for the SJFA community and we should thank the Polish community for a well organised and executed tournament – dziękujemy naszych polskich przyjaciół (we thank you our polish friends).
Mohamed Valjy, Manager, U13