Christchurch Global Football Festival 2017
- Afghanis loose the game but win hearts; Irish complete a hat-trick of titles winning a nail-bitter against Javidan
The 13th edition of the most-awaited annual sports event for ethnic communities in Christchurch – the Christchurch Global Football Festival – concluded on February 12 with Javidan, a team comprising of expats from Afghanistan, going down to the two-time defending champions Irish Rovers in a nail biting penalty shoot-out. The teams were level at one goal each at the end of the regulation time.
The Polish side, Polonez, secured the third spot, Solomon Islands came fourth, while the top six were completed by United Nations (5th), and Canterbury Fiji. Other nationalities represented include Brazil, Argentina, UK, Nepal, Bhutan, South Korea, South Africa, Ethiopia, Samoa, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, and of course New Zealand.
Started in 2003 as a forum to bring people from different nationalities living in Christchurch together, the Festival this year, was organised by the Christchurch City Council in collaboration with Christchurch Football Centre and New Zealand Police, and was supported by Mainland football, and Plains FM. In all, a total of 320 players aged 16 and above, participated in 16 teams. This year also saw the introduction of an inaugural female section, which included eight teams of young players aged between 10 and 12 years old.
During the post match presentation, Chris Murphy, captain of Irish Rovers, displaying the qualities of a gracious winner, was all praise for the Afghani team. “It was a tough game and penalties are always a lottery. We were just lucky today but we will take it.”
Speaking after receiving the runners up medal, Meysum Shafahi, Javidan's captain praised his team for the effort they had put in to reach the finals. “We have performed very well and I am proud of our achievement. This year we stumbled at the last step. Maybe next year, we will win the trophy.”
Vinay Prasad, a member of the Canterbury Fiji football team, which has won the tournament three times in the past, noted too, “While we have four different clubs in Christchurch where people from Fiji play, all of us come under one banner of Canterbury Fiji to participate in this tournament. In the last 13 years, we have seen the Football Festival grow leaps and bounds. Apart from the cultural diversity this event showcases, we also get to learn different styles of play, which help us in improving our game.”
Emily Toase from Christchurch City Council, who received praised from everybody for a well-organised tournament concluded, “In all, adding all the senior player, girls and juniors, plus the spectators and families that attended throughout the weekend, nearly 1000 people attended the event over the three days.”