‘Hosts’ Soccer Missionaries emerged victorious in the third edition of the Northern Talent Challenge Cup by beating Real Republicans 3-2 on penalties after the regulation time score of 1-1. Eight teams participated in the week long tournament to unearth talents at the juvenile level. All matches were played at the Kaladan Park.
The two teams (Soccer Missionaries and Real Republicans) showed their intent in competing in the finals as they both were the teams that came up tops in the semi-final matches played on Friday. Soccer Missionaries beat United Babies 2-1 in the semi-finals whilst Real Republicans defeated Young Lions by the same margin of scoreline.
The annual competition is organized by Soccer Missionaries as part of their end of year programme which has been in existence since 2016. The aim of the competition according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and coach of Soccer Missionaries Mohammed Bashiru (aka Joe Baah) is to help develop the competitive spirit in the the game of football in the children.
This year’s edition was an Under 12 competition between 8 participating teams split into two groups from the start. Soccer Missionaries, Real Republicans, United Babies and Young Lions qualified from their respective groups to the semi-finals.
To enable the organizers hold a successful event, support came from various individuals, groups and institutions. Notable among them was Alhaji Abu Hassan Rhyzos who assisted in paying the appearance fee and all other prize monies for the competition.
On the final day, United Babies drew 1-1 with Young Lions in the third and fourth place playoff. United Babies won the ensuing penalty shoot-out 4-3.
At the closing ceremony, Soccer Missionaries took home a giant trophy, 30 pieces of sunlight soap, 6 packs of soft drinks, 2 footballs, 20 exercise books and a total cash reward of GHC 125.
For placing second, Real Republicans took home 20 pieces of sunlight soap, 4 packs of soft drinks, 20 exercise books, 1 football and GHC 125 cash.
United Babies took home 2 packs of soft drinks, 15 pieces of sunlight soap, 20 exercise books and GHC 125 cash for placing third.
Young Lions took home 20 exercise books, 2 packs of soft drinks, 10 pieces of sunlight soap and GHC 105 cash for placing fourth. All the participating teams received GHC 45 cash as participating fees.
Other individual players received deserving awards for their brilliance during the tournament. Below are these individual award winners: Top Scorer: Yussif Ibrahim (Soccer Missionaries, 7goals) He was awarded a Football Boot donated by Hamza Mohammed, a former national star and now Chief Executive officer/coach of Gbewaa Academy.
Best Player: Alhassan Mohammed Sabiq ( Real Republicans), he was awarded a Football Boot.
Best Goalkeeper: Abubakari Abdul Malik (Soccer Missionaries), he was awarded a Goalkeeper’s Gloves.
Alhaji Abu Hassan Rhyzos who was present at the closing ceremony commended the organizers for a yeoman’s job and congratulated the various winners for their competitive spirit. He also dished out surprise cash rewards to some players who did very well in the final match he watched.
In his address to the gathering Alhaji Abu Hassan Rhyzos said , ” the whites usually say that for football to thrive in any part of the globe, there are three things that need to be taken into consideration which are talent/skills, resources (including money and logistics) and organization.” And these he said were what motivated him to support the tournament.
He urged the players to work hard so that in his conviction, ” some day, our national teams will be dominated by our northern based players.”
Alhaji Rhyzo also noted that, “we have over the years over-concentrated on the big boys for so long, so it is now time to shift that focus to the young generation which is why we are here.” He said he would continue to support the unearthing of talents at the young age since it is said that, ” catch them young and they shall be yours forever.”
The final match however did not end without a near brawl as supporters of Real Republicans attempted beating the referee for declaring Soccer Missionaries as the winners after four rounds of penalty shoot-out which they believed should have been the usual five kicks. Tempers were subsequently cooled. Diamond Sports later discovered that it was part of the agreed rules for the competition among all the teams at the tournament to take four kicks when a game reaches the penalty shoot-out.