THE ANNUAL Redditch ‘Cup of Champions’ six-a-side charity football tournament once proved to be a resounding success as more than £2,000 was raised.
The exact total of £2,003.46 was the highest single amount that has ever been raised since the project began in 2009 and the event – which is organised by members of the Redditch community – has now seen a combined sum of over £15,000 raised for various causes since it started.
This year’s tournament was again held in connection with Ummah Welfare Trust in aid of their ‘Widows Support’ project, which aids widows and their orphans in the most poverty-stricken and war-torn countries in the world.
The nationally-recognised event saw 18 teams from across the country including sides from Leicester, Stoke, Loughborough, Bradford and Oxford descend on Redditch in the hope of taking home the coveted trophy and it was Leeds-based Bacca FC – who were are renowned on the small-sided football circuit – who became the first side to defend the title as they produced some ruthless football.
The unlucky runners-up were Yakub Miah’s outstanding FC Birmingham, who produced spirited performances throughout the various stages of the tournament against the odds and surprised many along the way.
The final proved one step too far for FC Birmingham as the experience and nous of Bacca, led by the brilliant leadership of captain and 2015 Redditch ‘Cup of Champions’ Player of the Tournament Mushad Ahmed, proved too much as Bacca’s Ripon Miah, who also had an outstanding tournament, found the net to equalise in the final.
Ahmed, Miah and Ismail Malik were the outstanding performers in a superbly talented Bacca team as they marched to the final without conceding a goal.
FC Birmingham, however, did break the Bacca resistance in the final, albeit temporarily, when they took the lead through their star player Asay Chowhdary, who was named man of the match in the final and Referees’ Favourite Player.
However, despite missing the creativity of Tyler Smith, Bacca adjusted brilliantly to find a winning formula once again.
Earlier in the day, two-time champions Real West Brom were knocked out of the tournament at the group stage for the first time in their history, but there was consolation for their star player Chris Brown as he bagged the Top Goalscorer award for the fourth time since 2010 with nine goals in five games despite his side’s woes.
RWB were drawn in the same group as previous champions Amir Khan’s Sparkhill United and Haroon Mota’s Coventry Hamas and both teams outperformed RWB, as did surprise package Azid Ullah’s Walsall Bengal Stars, whose journey ended at the quarter-final stage.
They did, however, surpass any of their previous performances at this event by qualifying for the knockout stages and can look back with pride on a productive display.
Much-fancied Sparkhill were knocked out by their fierce rivals Bacca on penalties at the quarter-final stage after playing in a surprisingly withdrawn fashion – not typical of a Sparkhill team – with star man Maradona lacking any supply up front from midfield to make the vital difference.
Sparkhill seemed content to take the match to penalties and were confident their specialist shot-stopper Sabial Hanif in goal would step up to the task, but they missed two penalties which cost them dearly as Bacca scored every penalty.
Coventry Hamas had looked a good bet for the title after topping their group impressively but in the last four FC Birmingham defeated them 1-0 thanks to their top scorer Zuzu’s excellent finish and Mota and his team continue to hunt for their third title since 2011.
In group three, alongside eventual champions Bacca, both Osman Hussain’s Madrid FC who travelled from Stoke and Haroon Usman’s Oxford Allstars qualified for the knockout stages, but that was their last action as both teams were defeated 1-0.
CFA Leicester and Royal Bengal of Loughborough, who both came into the tournament with good recent records, were knocked out at the group stage, as were highly-rated Jubo Dhol FC of Bradford.
Rashed Ahmed’s host team, United Redditch, failed yet again in the penultimate match as Bacca FC ended their dreams of reaching their first final since 2009 by beating them 2-0 courtesy of goals from Ripon Miah and Sultan Khan and Redditch could not find way a back despite the best efforts of Orrin Pendley and Yassar Mahmood up front.
Afterwards a tournament spokesman said: “To raise the amount we did this year is a great feeling. It is double our initial target and has taken us past the £15,000 mark since 2009.
“The money will definitely help make a difference to widows across the world who need it most, making such things as food, clothing, winter packs and medical aid available to them.
“Special thanks go to the Redditch Standard who have been brilliant helping publicise this event since 2009, the staff at Trinity High School and Redditch Cricket, Hockey & Rugby Club and importantly all our of sponsors and partners who are integral to the success of this event, without them nothing would be possible, in particular Shamroz Altaf of GP Boxing and Mohammed Umran of Hewell Road Tyres.”
The tournament organising team was Shamroz Altaf, Mohammed Umran, Rashed Ahmed, Abdul Jabbar, Ayaz Rehman, Usman Mohammed, Hafiz Zoheb Rehman, Orrin Pendley, Asif Ahmed, Aftab Ahmed, Shariq Mazhar, Zeshaan Mazhar, Ahtsham Mazhar, Qasim Hafiz Khan, Yassar Mahmood and Ateek Abid and event sponsors were Gorilla Productions Boxing, Hewell Road Tyres, Dhaka Balti, Caspian Pizza, Flute Restaurant of Halesowen, Impact Trophies and Merchandising of Hertfordshire and Pete Lopeman Photography.