Kanga Cup 2016
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Concord Under 14 Girls bring Kanga Cup trophy back to Sydney
After many years of wanting to enter the Kanga Cup, this year it all come together for the Concord Under 14 Girls. With both parents and players making the commitment back in February to enter this year for the first time. After the initial excitement of registering the team, the season started and it wasn’t really discussed until we got closer to the tournament. Upon receiving our track suits the excitement started to build.
After attending the opening ceremony and enjoying the experience, it was down to the business of playing the tournament. In our first game we were drawn against Monaro. One of the strongest teams from the local Canberra competition and the winner of the two previous Kanga Plate Competitions. Pep advised us that the first game of the tournament is always difficult for Concord teams. This proved correct as we got off to a slow start and were 2-0 down with five minutes left to play. A goal from Meka put us back in the game. All of a sudden the girls believed they could salvage the match. This also seemed to spark Monaro and they quickly attacked after the kick off. Eva our goalkeeper pulls off a great save to keep us in the game. We break away and a through ball for Meka who calmly slots away the equaliser under great pressure. 2-2, we’re back. Although, still more to come. Monaro search for the winner, they break and Eva comes out to narrow the angle for the striker which forces her shot against the bar. A bit of luck, but sometimes you need a bit of luck to go your way. That last five minutes was the turning point of our tournament.
Day two started with very cold weather and lots of rain. We played against another local team – Belsouth FC. The game was played in wet, muddy and cold conditions. It was so cold that even those girls who played a full game came off with purple hands after the game. Even though the conditions were terrible, we played some great football. Persisting with our team play and passing game. We started to dominate possession by controlling the midfield, with Ellie and Sophia ‘bossing the midfield’. We kept talking about how good defence is needed to win tournaments and in this game our defence started to take good shape, although conceding a sloppy goal. You know you have played well when the opposition coach commends you on the way your team has played after the match. A comprehensive 4-1 victory in terrible conditions. The highlight being Olivia ‘stealing’ a goal from her sister, as the ball had stopped in the mud. We were glad to have the game and the victory as they closed the fields after our game. Our afternoon game was cancelled. A big thanks to Kevin and Justin for standing on the sidelines with umbrellas and blankets trying to keep the girls warm and dry.
Day three, more rain. Time spent by the phone and laptop waiting for news on whether games would be played, moved or cancelled. Although one game got moved, the ground was closed just as we arrived. Although the girls were keen to play, the day off gave players and parents a great opportunity to socialise. The girls really bonded on this day and were really enjoying the experience of being together in a tournament even though we didn’t play on the day.
Day four – blue skies. After deciding that all washed out games were given as a draw, there was everything to play for. We didn’t know if there would be top four semi-finals or straight to a 1v2 grand final. We were in the fortunate position of knowing that our destiny was in our own hands. A win and we would finish first or second. However, we were up against our local rivals Balmain who would like nothing more than to knock us out of the competition. After a nervous start we found our groove. Everyone new their role and the team was functioning like a well oiled machine. We had our two young guest players, Millie and Olivia bravely sharing the striker’s role against girls that were two years older and much bigger than them. All our midfield dominated, with April playing herself into great form. A comprehensive and confident 4-1 victory. With that result we would finish either first or second in the group. As it turned out we finished first and with organisers deciding that the tournament would go straight to a 1v2 grand final – we had made it.
With the news that we had made the grand final; more parents, friends and relatives came down to watch the grand final. The whole team and their families go together for a pre grand final dinner. There was a great feel and atmosphere about the dinner. Everyone had a great time and were already talking about what a wonderful week it was. A grand final win would just be the icing on the cake.
Day five – grand final day. We were up against Western Molongolo – another unknown quantity from the local Canberra competition. A constant theme in our team talks was that defence wins trophies. Our defence just got better with every game. The aim for our defence was to give our goal keeper Eva a boring afternoon. That is exactly what happened, our defence consisting of Sophie, Maddy, Veronica and Isabella was fantastic. The opposition did not have a chance all game. They dominated all the tackles and 50-50 balls. Importantly they started our attack by calmly playing the ball out from the back. They set the platform for our victory. This meant our midfield could control the game. Maddison switched between defence and midfield, showing her versatility. With four games in five days, tired legs had to be managed with flexibility in positions. Ellie and Sophia owned the centre midfield. Meka and April terrorised the opposition down the wings. Our strikers; Millie, Olivia and Alyssa W worked so hard to create chances and keep their defenders under pressure. April got the scoring under way and went on to have the game of her tournament. Alyssa our captain got the second goal which increased our confidence. As captain she led by example. Her competitive nature was followed by all the team. She continued to play after a bad tackle and fall. The third goal was from Ellie, who delighted the players and crowd with her tumble turn celebration. Final whistle; Concord wins 3-0.
Points were awarded for good performances in each game during the tournament. With the player totalling the highest points winning the Coach’s Trophy. With her consistent high standard that went to Ellie, with Sophia a close second. The Player’s Player trophy went to our goal keeper Eva.
The week was best summed up by Isabella who on the way back home said “this has been the best week of my life”.
Tournaments are won by preparing and training many months before. A special mention to our players who were part of the preparation but could not make the trip; Alanna, Lauren, Alyssa C, Nat and Ellie C.
Also a big thanks to Pep for his tireless work to ensure that Concord were well represented at the tournamemt.
Will we return to defend our trophy in 2017? That’s up to the girls and their parents – start clearing the calendar now.