CIFE Football Tournament
Having won the competition two years running, and going a whole calendar year without tasting defeat, MPW travelled to St George’s Park for the annual CIFE National 7-a-side Football Tournament in fine shape and full of belief.
However, the players knew that defending their crown and making it a hat-trick of CIFE trophies would be a tall order. This year’s competition was expanded to include 14 teams from across the country, and the new format meant matches were short, intense affairs at seven minutes each. The tournament structure was broadly similar to last year: a group stage, followed by knockout stages until the final.
Facing our Midlands rivals MPW Birmingham in the tournament curtain raiser, MPW London got off to the perfect start as Luc pounced on a loose ball to tuck the ball home with only ten seconds on the clock. Further opportunities followed, but that strike was enough to secure the three points. The strong start was followed by two frustrating 0-0 draws with old rivals Ashbourne and CATS, as the short games meant goal scoring opportunities were at a premium, and when they did come, fine goalkeeping and bad luck denied us.
Next up were Bosworth College, who provided another stern test. It was a close fought game and there were chances at both ends, but the decisive moment came when Will was bundled over in the penalty area in the final minute. The referee pointed to the spot and Will calmly converted the penalty to secure a 1-0 victory.
The final two group games were even more challenging. Against DLD, MPW created chances but a counter attacking goal was enough to give DLD the win. The final group game was against the impressive Brooke House Football Academy, whose rapid movement and clinical finishing was enough to give them a 2-0 win. Other results meant that MPW finished fourth in the group and qualified for the quarter-finals.
In the last eight MPW faced the winners of the other group, Collingham College. Against our Kensington neighbours MPW clicked into gear and ran out comfortable 3-1 winners, with Will netting a brace either side of a Nikita strike.
Up next, in the semi-final we met the in-form Brooke House again. MPW went a goal down early on, but Nikita responded by drilling home a fine effort from long range, only for Brooke House to scramble in another goal soon after. MPW dug deep and the game could have swung back our way, but Nikita’s long-range effort bounced back off the cross bar. It was not our day though, and Brooke House went onto score another to settle the tie.
Brooke House went on to win the final against Bosworth, and were worthy winners of the trophy. Despite missing out on winners medals, MPW can look back with pride on playing their part in an enjoyable occasional, and the players can be congratulated on displaying exemplary sportsmanship and teamwork throughout the day.