MPW victory in the CIFE football tournament!
Being invited to take part in the first CIFE football tournament which was held at England’s national training facility at St George’s during the Easter break was a unique experience which was possibly the highlight of the year for MPW football.
Run by the Football Association, the facilities were second to none and the full England team train on the 3G pitch used for the tournament. There were ten colleges from the south of England, split into two groups of five, and it was clear from the outset that there were some strong teams. With Freddie injured two days before and another player unable to come, we had only one substitute to survive a tough schedule of four games before the knock-out stage. Joe stepped into the captain’s role and we stuck to playing two defenders, a sole striker and three in midfield. We got off to winning ways and by the time we met the favourites, CCSS, in the last group game both had qualified.
With a very short break between this game and the semi final, we met an on-form Ashbourne and after a tense draw we entered into the unchartered grounds of an ‘American-style penalty shoot-out’ which is where a player must take the ball from the half-way line for a one-on-one with the opposition keeper. Arthur, Max and Nyan stepped forward in that order and with our keeper (Darius) working wonders by saving both Ashbourne efforts, we didn’t require the third man, Arthur and Max scoring emphatically.
As soon as the final kicked off it was clear we needn’t have worried about our standards of fitness, ability and discipline, and we more than held our own in the re-match with CCSS producing the only clear-cut shot on goal from Joe with two minutes left. This was beyond the keeper but saved by a defender and it was to go to another nerve-wracking shoot-out. The same players stepped up again and the same outcome was confidently achieved with Arthur and Max scoring and Darius proving formidable by not letting a goal in!
Bringing the trophy back to London seemed a fitting way to end a really enjoyable year of football and everyone involved conducted themselves with calm and respectful confidence befitting the prestigious environment to establish something of lasting value for the school. Most of the team will still be with us in 2015/16 so we have a sound basis for next year.