The Frank Soo Foundation raises awareness of Frank Soo’s legacy and raise money for the local Chinese Community Centres
For the past two months the UK has been suffering an unprecedented heat wave. Active people around the country suffered in the unbearable heat, but it was as if the universe knew that the Chinese Community Challenge Cup was, once again, back on the schedule of 5-a-side teams around the country.
The biggest sporting event of the summer (no, not that one in Russia!) came back with a bang! Thousands of fans descended to Shepherd’s Bush travelling thousands of miles to get there. Ok, they may have been there to watch the QPR friendly against FC Union Berlin but as the CCC Cup players battled their way through the tournament, they were supported by the Championship side’s loud chanting and celebrations, giving them a sense of invincibility.
Many familiar faces returned to the line up, including the CCC teams and God Squad (last year’s National Champions) but new teams, such as Wallo’s Wonders and Turtlephoon FC, also arrived to give a hint of the unknown.
Organised by The Frank Soo Foundation and supported by the London Chinese Community Centre, the Chinese Community Challenge Cup aims to promote sports and healthy recreation within the Asian communities, whilst trying to foster a better relationship between the UK and China.
For more on Frank Soo, the unknown Chinese Footballer who represented England see here
All in all 20 teams arrived with a further 5 women’s teams in a separate tournament to compete in a highly competitive and tough competition. There was a level of excitement in the air as they arrived to register. After the opening ceremony where the Frank Soo Foundation Chairman, Alan Lau, gave a speech, kick off commenced and that set standard for the rest of the day.
34 goals were scored in the opening six games and even with “Jesus” on their side CCC Cup Regulars, Drowned in Sound, could not handle the might of Thailand’s best 5-a-side team, Singha Thai, losing 0-8.
An incredible 186 goals were scored in the group stages of both the men’s and women’s tournaments. The biggest score, unfortunately, again involved Drowned in Sound, losing 9-0 to Bravermen FC.
This tournament saw 369 goals being scored in 60 matches (47 men’s and 13 women’s).
London Lionesses, London’s top women’s 5-a-side football team, dominated the women’s tournament and scoring an impressive 27 goals in just 6 games!
There was also a first in the tournament as the Cup final was settled by a penalty shoot out. Tabard FC drew 2-2 against National Champions, God Squad.
Players stood shoulder to shoulder with their teammates. There was an air of tension and nervousness as player after player walked towards the penalty spot. It finally stood 3-2 to Tabard FC and Trevor of God Squad walked slowly towards to spot, facing Paulo of Tabard FC, he knew had to score. He took one step forward and kicked the ball to the right, as the keeper went the other way…. The crowd watch in anxiety as the ball drifted forwards with speed and power… Only to hit the cross bar!
Paulo, the Frank Soo Player of the Tournament, had barely any time to even realise Trevor had missed before being mobbed by his teammates screaming “Champions”!
The Chinese Communinty Challenge South Cup was entertaining as ever year after year teams come back to seek fame and glory in the world of 5-a-side football.
This year Councillor Lu Hai Tian of The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, returned to present a medals and trophies to all the winners. He said the players of both the men’s and women’s teams “did a terrific job and I enjoyed their performance and was very exciting”.
Last year, The Frank Soo Foundation held its first ever tournament outside of London, in Manchester. This year the tournament was held in Birmingham, where 4 teams competed to be crowned the first winner of the inaugural Midlands Cup.
52 goals were scored in 10 matches with the highest scoring game being 9-0 between Birmingham Athletics 2 and the main sponsor’s team own team, Rainbow Casino.
Rainbow Casino’s team were clearly outmatched against the other teams but one thing that everyone noted was the sheer determination of every single one of their players. Despite being out of shape and struggling to play, Rainbow Casino fought on and on and embodied the spirit of the tournament.
This spirit was clear in the Frank Soo Midland’s Player of the Tournament, Emmanuel Cappello of Rainbow Casino. The referees agreed that, despite conceding 32 goals, Emmanuel continued to get up with a smile on his face and carried on protecting his goal.
Birmingham Athletics 2 eventually won against in a penalty shoot out against their own 11-a-side team mates, Birmingham Athletics. Unfortunately, due to injuries, they were not able to attend the Super Cup in London.
The teams that were invited to the Super Cup were: Nemesis (North Champions 2017), God Squad (National Champions 2017), Tabard FC (South Champions 2018), CATH, Singha Thai, Golden Dragon, CCC FC A and CCC FC B.
91 goals were scored by the 8 teams in 18 matches. Nemesis returned with a bone to pick. Last year they dominated the stats. Best player, Top scorer & Saucer Champions. They came back this year to the Super determined to prove everyone wrong.
Their group match started off well beating 2017 National Champions, God Squad, 3-2. They dominated the match until the last few minutes where they conceded the 2 goals. They came back strongly against Golden Dragon by beating them 7-4. CCC FC B were expected to lose in the final group match against Nemesis, but their sheer grit and determination led to CCC FC B winning 3-2.
While CCC FC B, who many considered being in the group of death at the Super Cup, had won their group undefeated (winning 2, drawing once), their team mates in CCC FC A were not playing well at all. They conceded 8 goals and scored only the once in all 3 losses. The players were extremely tired and you could tell the players were not focused as a result. The highest scoring game was Golden Dragon against CCC FC A, where they won 9-0.
It was in this match that Jack Barratt, Golden Dragon, scored 6 goals to take his final tally to 15 goals and thus winning the Super Golden Boot award. Jack is now the title holder of the highest scoring player in a single tournament. However, despite this domination on the goal sheet, it was Darren Lam, goalkeeper of Nemesis, who eventually won the coveted Frank Soo Super Player of the Tournament.
Nemesis may have lost their closing group match but they would get their revenge in Cup Final against CCC FC B. With every tackle won, every ball intercepted and every goal scored, it was clear who the crowd wanted to win. The crowd wanted the Cup to remain in London.
The score line was 4-3 to Nemesis, thanks to a late surge by CCC FC B. Even Robert Lee was on the score line and he admitted after that he rarely scores. Build up play was reminiscent of Barcelona with 20 passes being made with a hint of patience. But, due to the well organised defence, CCC FC B were restricted to shooting from distance. It was here that Rob showed glimpses of goal poacher greats, such as Ruud van Nistelrooy or Gary Lineker, and intercepted a pass before taking it around a player and chipping it over the keeper.
The Chinese Community Challenge Cup was a huge success and The Frank Soo Foundation was able to raise £1600 for the London Chinese Community Centre, The Manchester Chinese Centre and the Birmingham Chinese Community Centre.
The Frank Soo Foundation’s Chinese Community Challenge Cup will return in 2019 with the 10th CCC Cup.
Media & Operations Director
The Frank Soo Foundation
Author Susan Gardiner discusses her book on British Chinese footballer Frank Soo see here