On Saturday 16th July, the UK Bal Mandal held the 15th National 5-a-side Football Tournament at Alperton Goals, Wembley, London.
44 teams from 15 different centres and over 300 players along with over 50 karyakars and around 100 parents from all over the UK had gathered for the tournament. Teams from up and down the country including Ashton, Preston, Birmingham, Luton, Leicester, Wellingborough, Loughborough and the London suburbs were all present highly anticipating this year’s tournament as it marked the 15th Anniversary of the Pramukh Cup, the longest running sports competition-on in the history of the UK BAPS.
The tournament began with an opening ceremony at the heart of the football pitch. All the children were dressed in specially designed kits, with different colours for different teams. The tournament started with the stuti which was sung by all participants with great enthusiasm. This year, on its 15th Anniversary the tournament was honored by the presence of Vinodbhai (VH) Patel (London Mandir Board of Trustees Member). P. Yogvivek Swami talked about how the game should be played with the right team spirit, mentioning how this tournament was different from others in that it encouraged essential values such as sportsmanship, unity and respect. He also touched on how the Pramukh Cup had developed over the last 15 years to the magnificent tournament it is today.
With 107 matches to be played in six and a half hours, Alperton Goals was full of fun, laughter and delight. Even though there was torrential rain, heavy at times, balaks, parents and karyakars all braved the rains and stayed out in numbers to support the tournament. Apart from the continuous enjoyment of football, refreshments were served throughout the day to all parents and children.
The tournament started with the group stage matches for the different age groups, followed by a hot lunch, and then onto the crucial knockout rounds leading up to the finals.
The quarters and semi-finals provided no upsets, those that were tipped for the finals successfully made it. The teams played their finals on the same pitch allowing everyone to support the finalists creating a lively atmosphere. Manojbhai, Vandanbhai and Daveshbhai were at their usual best providing great entertaining commentary to parents and fans alike. The 6-9 Ghanshyam cup saw Birmingham come out on top to win 2-1 against Sunday School to win their first trophy in 5 years. The Nilkanth cup 9-10 age group was a tightly contested affair with East London edging it 1-0 against Ashton. East London also won the 10-14 mixed age group, Sahajanand Cup, again winning just 1-0 against West London. The 11-12, Sarjudas Cup final saw a large amount of missed chances for both finalists, but Sunday School eventually came out on top winning 2-1 against Brent-Harrow.
The Pramukh Cup Final was the last game of the day and those that had waited all day to see this final were not disappointed. It was described as the best final in the 15 year history of the Pramukh Cup. Brent-Harrow started brightly scoring in the first 5 seconds of the match. Sunday school replied in emphatic fashion taking a 3-1 lead up to half time. Victory looked almost certain for Sunday school but a good half time team talk inspired Brent-Harrow to take a 4-3 lead with one minute to go. A brilliant solo effort then saw Sunday school equalize with seconds to spare taking the game to extra time. In extra time Sunday school scored the only goal to secure their second successive Pramukh Cup victory. An exciting final which thrilled all who had come to watch and it proved a perfect end to a fantastic tournament.
Over 300 goals were scored in the whole tournament thrilling the many spectators that had gathered for this event. The tournament ended with a closing ceremony in which P.Yogvivek Swami congratulated all the players for taking part. He also reiterated that this tournament was about increasing respect between one another and playing with unity and that was clearly visible in each and every game that had been played. Another successful Pramukh Cup surely engraved its wonderful memories in the hearts and minds of all balaks, parents and managers.