Monday, 18 October 2010

Ladies' COFTA 2010 by Michael 'Bunso' Mekhail

Twas a beautiful morning in the luscious fields of Shephalbury Park on the 2nd of October 2010. The grass was sprinkled with dew and people were out for their peaceful morning walk. This day however was no normal day, it was a COFTA day! The dreaded gate had been opened and the noisy Copts were pouring back into the quiet park for another loud day of football. Only this time, it was the ladies turn to shine.

As the boys tried to get some last minute footballing knowledge into their girls before we kicked off (we decided to ‘postpone’ explaining the offside rule, for simplicity’s sake), the corner flags were erected and the goal nets were prepared for an intense day of sporting rivalry. The Anba Abraam (Brighton) girls had been training hard in order to try and secure the treble title after their boys won COFTA two weeks before and the basketball back in March. From the other end of the country, after the success of the Northern boys at COFTA, the Northern girls decided they were not to be outdone; donning the infamous ‘Messi 10’ shirt and some rather fetching blue facepaint, they took to the field in their first game against za big gibna, Anba Abraam. Meanwhile the team of host church, St. George, was being led through some last minute training drills by their me3alem and world-renowned coach Amir Michaeel. St. Shenouda (Croydon), Archangel Michael (Golders Green) and St Mark were battling it out in the other group.

They ran, they tackled, and they fouled; for 4 long hours the girls fought it out in the group stages for a place in the semi finals. In group 1 a cheeky goal from St George’s Angela Mikhail contributed to earning them a semi-final place alongside Anba Abram while the lovely Northern girls walked proudly off with the admiration of many, planning their strategy for next year. Unlucky ladies, thanks for coming.

In group 2 Archangel Michael and St Mark progressed to the next round, the infamous St. Shenouda Phairies, playing as passionately and proudly as always, with their faithful supporters,

After a lunch time of reapplying Deep-Heat and revisiting game plans, the girls headed back onto the battleground for round 2. With the weather turning on us, we worried that the girls might give up on the whole tournament and scamper inside, but like true soldiers, they fought on with every last bit of energy they had, and gave more than anyone ever expected to see.

In the semi-final between St. George and Archangel Michael, teh latter grabbed an early advantage, going one nil up in the first half. St. George were not to be outdone though with the girls fighting proudly till the last moment when Golders were awarded a penalty which was then expertly dispatched going in off the post. No chance for poor Angy in goal. The other semi final featuring Anba Abraam and St Mark was a hard-fought battle also with no winner being decided after the 90 minutes and the game going onto penalties. There was top corner, bottom corner, saves from the goalies. St Mark eventually scraped through to the final, knocking the well-represented favourites out of the competition.

It had been a long day for players and supporters alike. With the sun setting there was one more game that needed to be played. The Ladies’ COFTA 2010 final between St.Mark and Archangel Michael. A fierce rivalry that has been brewing for years now suddenly came into the spotlight as the girls threw caution to the wind one last time and fought to validate the day’s work. After 90 minutes, a winner was undecided. Weary legs at the back and even wearier legs up front, but neither team had managed to score a goal in normal time. Extra time also failed to separate the women from the girls, leaving us with one dreaded option, pitch black penalties.

After a long day of relatively controversy-free football, the final was bound to go sailing by smoothly right... Right? Wrong! A dispute sprung up over one of the penalties, but at the end of this great day the title went to St.Mark, although after all the hard work put in throughout the day and the excellent fellowship, every team deserved the trophy.

And so it was that we prayed liturgy together on Sunday morning to round off what had been a wonderful weekend of fellowship and friendly competition. Legs were bandaged, cuts were plastered, muscles were sore. As the girls were lining up for communion one parent asked me; ‘Do you know why all the girls are limping towards Sayedna? Was there some sort of fight?’.No sir, no fighting took place. The girls ran around playing football all day yesterday and were showing the injuries of committed warriors! At least they have a whole year of recovery time until next years COFTA…