Community football club Omonia Youth FC, sponsored by PIA Financial Group and Philip Ross Solicitors, had plenty of reasons to be proud after hosting another successful Summer 6-a-side Tournament last weekend.
Over the weekend, the Radiomarathon Centre in Enfield was transformed into an arena where young footballers from near and far competed for Cup and Plate competitions in 6-a-side summer youth football tournament.
This year’s edition was a particularly special one as it comes in the year of the club’s 25 Year Anniversary. As the club has grown and evolved, this year’s event, as last year, had two all-girls tournaments taking place; fitting in the year of the Women’s World Cup and with such passionate fervour for the women’s game thanks to the England Lionesses progress in the tournament.
While there is cynicism about the professional game, borne out of frustration of high ticket prices, ludicrous transfer fees and salaries, at grassroots level at least, this little corner of the footballing world is thriving and last weekend again proved that the football can indeed be the beautiful game.
Split over two days to accommodate the popularity of the event, clubs from four counties arrived at the Radiomarathon Centre in Enfield, North London for what was unanimously described as a well-run, well organised and fantastic tournament.
There were 10 sections in all from Under 7 all the way through to Under 14 including two all-girl sections. In total an incredible 116 teams took part encompassing over 1000 young footballers in what was a genuine celebration of football.
The number of spectators over the two days exceeded 3000 people which included scouts from professional clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace who were very complimentary of the whole set-up as well as the quality of the football they witnessed. What spectators, coaches, referees and players experienced over the two days was a tournament that was superbly organised and credit goes to the Omonia Youth FC Management Committee and the volunteer helpers who spent months ensuring that logistically the two days ran seamlessly and on time.
The weather certainly helped as did the opportunity to savour the various food on offer as Omonia Youth FC managers, coaches and parents ensured visitors were well fed with traditional Cyprus souvlakia and burgers and refreshed with other various snacks and drinks.
Ten mini tournaments were competed for from Under 7 all the way through to Under 14 with two girl-only tournament too. It was a genuine celebration of football with over 1000 young footballers enjoying the excellent playing surface and revelling in the positive, competitive spirit.
As an FA Chartered Standard club, Omonia Youth FC takes pride in a status granted clubs who are rigorously judged to be well-run and sustainable, and who prioritise safeguarding of their young patrons, quality coaching and the implementation of the FA’s ‘For All’ initiative. This was clearly in evidence during the tournament with the club organising the pitches to ensure that only coaches, managers and players could enter the ‘designated coaches zone’ with a cordoned off area behind a respect barrier on the outside for parents and spectators to enjoy the action. Every team was given a ‘Coaches ID Badge’ to identify the only adults permitted in the coaching area. This was appreciated by visiting coaches as they sought to have the correct atmosphere to coach and enjoy the tournament. This was regularly commented on as an example of good practice and ensured that the coaches were given the time and space to coach and players were given the opportunity to show their best.
Club Chairman Michael Pieri had this to say:
“In the year that the club celebrates our 25 year anniversary, I am very proud of what the club have put on over the weekend. Events like this do not happen overnight; it takes months of preparation, hard work and toil and for all the anxiety in the lead up to the event it is worth it when you see so many happy young footballers who have been given the opportunity to show their best in a tournament scenario.
It is always nice to hear positive things about the club and this year’s event was no exception as visitors praised the event from an organisation point of view, from the food that was available and the quality of the playing surface. The good weather helped, even if Saturday was probably too hot for some.
It is events like this give our club the opportunity to showcase what we are about and celebrate our values and philosophy by serving not only the needs of our own young footballers but the young footballers of our community and grassroots football too. A colossal effort is required to plan and execute the event and again I am proud to say that the club pulled together to ensure that the young footballers of our club and their parents went home delighted that their club’s tournament was again a huge success. A few special mentions: thank you to the committee whose unstinting support made the event possible. Thank you Demi Shiamishi who along with brother Fano and Alex Christofi coordinated the catering team which included parents and supporters of the club too. Their operation was a model of efficiency at work.
There are so many others to thank that I don’t want to risk forgetting anyone. They know who they are and it is their unselfishness in giving up their time that epitomises the strength of the club. There were those who set up on Friday evening, those who came in at 7am on Saturday and Sunday to set up the cones to allow traffic flow and those did the car park duty. The most thankless task is the clean-up at the end of the day on Sunday and there were a few us still packing up and cleaning at 8pm!
A big thank you to our five young referees whose conduct was exemplary as they acquitted themselves superbly over the two days, so thank you Alex, Jaleel, Luke, Nathan and Harry.
Finally a very heartfelt and special thank you to the mums who stepped up and helped over the two days without whom the tuck shop and the food stalls would not have been stocked, organised or run as efficiently as they were without their presence.
It is this collective effort as a club that when we pull together, everything and anything is possible. Community spirit is at the heart of the club’s ethos and philosophy and it is events like this which typify and represent what the club is about. Those of us in the current committee are very conscious of continuing and building on what has gone before by leaving a lasting, positive legacy. We should all be proud of what we are part of and the bigger picture is sometimes not easy for all to see but there are enough us who have that vision and hopefully when we do pass on the baton of responsibility, as a club we continue to grow and achieve.”
Omonia Youth FC was founded in 1994, and with over 30 teams in all age groups set to compete next season, the club has never been in a stronger position. The heritage bestowed on the current committee is an important one and last weekend showed yet again that Omonia Youth FC continues to flourish as a community football club with a fine traditional for providing a positive environment for all young footballers to develop their football education within a setting where they can also mature as individuals and as groups. Last weekend was truly a festival of football, community spirit and positive feeling. What a way to prepare for the summer and laying the foundations for another successful season next year.
Should you feel enthused and want to know more about Omonia Youth FC, you can contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org, via the contact page on the club’s website www.omoniayouthfc.com as well as following the club on twitter @OmoniaYouthFC and Instagram @omoniayouthfc1994.