From Manchester to Wembley
Big crowds, 21 teams and 150 children: the Manchester leg of the Indesit National Mini Soccer Cup at The Trafford Centre was a day stuffed full with skill, enthusiasm and energy.
A large crowd of parents, supporters (and few scouts) watched the under-8 and under-10 teams play out some tight matches and score some glorious goals.
Former Rochdale professional Reece Kelly, who now runs the Coach Right UK academy, entered four teams into the tournament. “The kids have enjoyed it – it’s a brilliant event,” he said.
“It’s great for all the junior teams to get involved and meet a lot of new kids who’ve got a lot of talent. And there are scouts from Everton and Liverpool and they want all our kids. I’m not too happy!”
Expectant spectators cheered each goal enthusiastically as the tournament headed for its climax – semi-finals between the four group winners.
There were some huge wins before the knock-out rounds, including 6-0 and 7-1 successes for Coach Right UK Stingrays over Swinton Lions and Sale C Sharks in the under-8s category. In the under-10s meanwhile, Lisbon Reds 1 caught the eye with a 6-0 win over Timperley Villa Wild Cats.
But it was eventual winners Lisbon Reds 2 who impressed most, scoring 20 goals in their four group games.
They reached the final with a win over Coach Right UK Wolves, then came from 2-0 down to defeat Lisbon Reds 1 in a tense penalty shoot-out. Liam Evans scored the winning penalty and his dad was thrilled with his son’s performance.
“I’m proud of him, he’s done well today," said Evans Senior. "We’re definitely going to go down to Wembley. I’ll book the following day off work – and Liam can have a day off school.”
Liam meanwhile explained that he hopes to play at the top level one day. “I’d most like to play for Manchester United, but I'd still say yes to Liverpool!”
The under-8s final also went to spot-kicks after the Tiki Taki Catalans, who beat Irlam Vale Galaxy in the semis, came from 1-0 down against Sale C Gladiators.
Faris Mohammed was the hero, caressing home from 10 yards to level the scores late on before scoring the deciding spot-kick, firing into the corner to take his team to Wembley.
“It felt amazing to score the winning penalty," said Faris. "I was thinking that I was going to miss!”
Dad Adel, who cannot wait to travel to Wembley, was thrilled: “I’m very proud of him. It’s been a very enjoyable day. I’m definitely going down to Wembley. This is a dream come true for him, and I’ve never been, so I’ll be proud to take Faris there. Credit to Tiki Taka, they’ve taught him how to play. They give him the right advice.”
The finals of the Indesit National Mini Soccer Cup take place at Powerleague Wembley on November 1.