Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Highlight of the Coptic Youth Calendar: COFTA.

By COFTA Secretary John Shenouda

The Coptic Orthodox Football Tournament Association hosted its annual men’s football tournament held at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Shephalbury Park on the 11th and 12th of September 2010. The usual bar for standard of play is relatively low as most of the youth are on the verge of, if not already at, obesity.

In truth, months of preparation and organisation went out of the window on Friday night when a lot more people had to be accommodated than planned. Nonetheless, the sense of Koinonia was once again at its best as everyone helped overcome the issue. The morning provided a rainbow of colourful youth in various different kits awaiting the opening prayer. I thought I was in wonderland when I GENUINLY saw Lionel Messi…a whole 14 of him! Only later were my eyes opened to the fact that these were actually the debutant Rotherham boys who would provide many a shock this year.

Football kicked off with the St. Shenouda team complaining the St. Mary, Golders Green team should be disqualified for being late and the St. Mary team refusing to change their goalie kit despite it being the same as the outfield kit because “it was new!” But then again, some things never change. Eventually play got underway. And while on one pitch a dislocated finger was popped back in by non-other than Danny “Crutches” Daniel, the Rotherham underdogs were proving tough and resilient beating the holders 2-0 against all the odds.

With prayers under our belts and God on our side, surely we (St. George) would win this year! It simply wasn’t to be. With 4 points from 4 games, our glory came not from wining matches but from the number of burgers our players ate at lunch. The St. Abraam team topped their group with relative ease followed by St. Shenouda and in group B, Rotherham and St Mark went through.

A packed Vespers service concluded the day in beautiful fashion.

Day 2: and liturgy united us for what would be the last time before football matters got serious again. The semis saw St Abraam overcome St Mark on penalties after an invigorating game in which the infallible linesman (myself) was ambushed by St Marks “Super (referring to size) Sub” Mark Bishoy. The second semi turned out a CRACKER! Rotherham came back from a goal down thanks to an amazing goal worthy of the title Scholes-esque which shocked and delighted all.
The final crowned St. Abraam worthy winners, convincingly coming out on top 3-0. Their victory cemented each of the southern churches winning COFTA once in the past 5 years of its existence. So my predictions for next year: St. Shenouda as we go round the cycle for the second time.

Ladies’ COFTA is this weekend, Saturday 2nd October at the Centre in Stevenage