A beautiful day for the beautiful game

London’s 7th annual Chinese Community Challenge Cup took place this weekend, pitting the UK’s best five-a-side football teams against each other to see which side deserved to lift the tournament’s prestigious trophy.

This weekend, Wembley’s iconic Powerleague was blessed with fantastic weather and equally fantastic football. With 12 more teams than last year, the tournament promised to be more competitive, tougher and ultimately more fun. Indeed, the 32 teams that participated in this year’s tournament set the record for the highest number of teams to compete, completely eclipsing last year’s record of 24.

Vinh Tran, a volunteer on the day said that the tournament went smoothly, despite having more teams,

“We’ve done much better than last year in terms of organising, even though we’ve had so many more teams this year.”

How did the tournament work?

The 32 teams were divided into groups of four. The winner of each group would enter the Cup competition, the runners up would enter the Saucer competition and the third place of each group would enter the Ladle competition. This system ensured that those who did not win their groups were still eligible to compete for alternative trophies, preventing teams from going home too early.

Teams were given a rest in between matches of at least 15 minutes, during which they could regroup, discuss tactics and feast on the delicious BBQ provided by the community centre.

Half of the money raised will go to the Frank Soo Project. The project will fund the research and publishing of Susan Gardiner’s biography of footballer Frank Soo, who was the first footballer to play in the English football league and the first non-white player to represent his country. To find out more about the project and/or Frank Soo himself, read Susan Gardiner’s piece for Resonate.

The tournament also featured 3 ladies teams that eager to show that they were just as good, if not, better than the guys teams.

Jodie Wong, from the CCC ladies teams said that the competition amongst the ladies was just as fierce as the guys and the talent was equally as good,

“it’s good fun. There’s only three girls teams. We lost against the other two teams, they’re really good! It’s like playing against guys!”

Who were the favourites?

Not All That were crowned the winners of the CCC cup for the last two years running. Returning to the tournament to retain their title, many speculated that they were striving for their third consecutive victory.

Leon Chua, one of the Not All That’s key players, said that this year was particularly special for them,

“it’s really important for us this year. If we win it this year, we’ll have won it three times in a row, but there’s a lot of tough competition out there”.

However, by group stage, it was clear that ‘Not All That’ weren’t the only viable contenders this year. Dragon FT Elite, JE, Victorious Secret and BFF all won each of their group games, a fete that reigning champions ‘Not All That’ could not accomplish. It quickly became apparent that increasing the number of participating teams resulted in an increase in the talent.

James Huang from ECC Panthers said that it was a tough tournament,

“everyone here is really good. With five-a-side, there’s so much more involved tactically. You can have really good players, but if you switch off in five-a-side, you’ll get beaten. But I’ve had a really good time. We’ve built the foundation for our teams so we’ll definitely be back next year.”

What was the result?

With 391 goals being scored over 80 matches, with the top scoring game having 12 goals, the tournament was far from boring. Deep thuds were echoed around the pitches as balls were being booted into the walls, with ubiquitous cheering and applause filling the grounds. Many of the games were so intense that you forgot that you were watching an amateur five-a-side game.

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Every team that participated in the tournament were driven with passion, fighting fiercely for the title. However, after narrowly missing out on cup glory for so many years, losing in three finals and two semi-finals, Dragon FT Elite finally managed to get their hands on this year’s trophy, and it clearly meant the world to them. The tournament was tough on them, with two of their games leading to penalty shootouts. Fortunately the team didn’t buckle under the pressure and kept it together until to the end, where they were crowned winners of this year’s tournament.

Sunny Booleruthai, captain of the team, expressed how proud he was of his team,

“I’m overjoyed! It’s taken five years but we’ve done it. It was a tough tournament though, everyone was just on their knees at the end. We’re definitely coming back next year and we won’t change our winning formula.”

  • The Frank Soo Player of the tournament award went to Jeese of beaten finalists’ BFF.
  • The Spectrum Radio (Saucer) Award was won by Shikara Shikara.
  • The CCC Ladle award was won by Funky Buddha.

Each of the awards were presented by VIPs Zena Lam and Michelle Huynh, who were crowned Miss Pearl China and Miss Pearl Vietnam respectively.

The event was an incredible success, with every player, supporter and organiser enjoying the day’s festivities. Alan Lau, who organises the tournament each year, said,

“the standard of football today was really good. It’s a highlight of a lot of people’s summers. I get told that a lot and it makes me really happy. For next year, we’re going to try and expand to the rest of England. And then… why stop at England?!”

Ban Trinh, who co-organises the event with Alan said that he was proud of how the tournament has grown since its inception,

“it’s amazing to see how this event has grown every year compared to when we first started out and to hear from the players that they look forward to this tournament every summer makes us very proud of what we’ve achieved. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make next year even better.”

The Resonate team certainly had a great time watching some fantastic football and we look forward to next year’s tournament. The Chinese Community Centre, Alan Lau and Ban Trinh all did an incredible job in organising the event. Finally, congratulations to Dragon FT Elite on their well deserved win!

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