After another successful campaign, our league winning Under 10 team took part in this year’s DAPSA grand finals. With each of the seven league winners due to play one another, the stage was set for some of Dubai’s most talented young footballers to showcase their skills and teamwork at Repton school.
Once pre-match drills, warm ups and tactics had been navigated, the team took to the field to compete in the first of the afternoon’s encounters. Regent International brought an impressive undefeated record to the field and it was crucial for GCS to get off to a positive start. They certainly didn’t disappoint. After a tight affair, with both teams exchanging attacks that broke through strong defensive lines, a draw looked on the cards; however, Hadi T had different ideas and when he successfully intercepted an opponent’s pass he played an inch perfect pass through to Valerio and to everyone’s delight the Italian swivelled on the spot before composing himself and firing the team into a lead and their first win.
With three points on the board, GCS had certainly justified their place in the finals and their opponents were taking notice. Vladic was inspirational throughout the first game and GCS had got off to a winning start, but the team knew that it was going to be the most challenging set of games they as a team had ever faced. The next match saw GCS take on Sharjah English School who so far also had an unblemished record. With captains’ Omar and Lian affirming key messages on the field the team were in good stead to build on their first win. Nicolo began to boss the midfield and linked up well with his strikers. Their hard efforts were rewarded when Lian coolly slotted home the first goal. Before the opponents could compose themselves, the South African took full advantage of Valerio and Nicolo’s interplay, putting the Under 10’s into an assailing two nil lead. This was soon followed up by a sweet strike from Owen and another late goal from Hadi B. At four nil up, the team looked tired and a lapse in concentration resulted in them conceding their first goal but alas the final whistle arrived and the team had won their first two games.
After two very competitive games, there was little let up and the team now faced DESS who too had topped their leagues with six straight wins. GCS were slow to start and it seemed like the first two games had taken a lot out of the team. Thankfully Gabe minimized attacks and Vladic safely guarded his goal. The much needed second wind didn’t arrive and it was no surprise when their opponents eventually took a deserved lead. The team faced their first deficit. Did they crumble? Did they tire more? Did they succumb to defeat? They most certainly did not. To the crowd’s amazement, the team rolled up their sleeves and set about getting themselves back into the game. Omar in a new free role began to dominate the attacking half and GCS began to ask question of their opponent’s keeper, who so far had kept DES in the game. With the attacks growing stronger and an inevitable equalizer looking likely, a referee decision gave possession back to DES who duly responded by taking full advantage and putting themselves into a winning two nil lead.
As a general rule, footballers have a lot to learn from their rugby compatriots in accepting refereeing decisions gracefully. Rightly or wrongly, the team felt a little aggrieved; however, our principled students didn’t question the entrusted authority and one of the afternoon’s highlights for the coach was to see his team shake hands and congratulate their opponents at the end of their first defeat.
Tournament winners was still in sight and after a much needed break the team took to the field to face DIA. Lian reminded his peers of their responsibilities on the field and the squad had a spring in their step. Vladic made some amazing saves and Hadi T once more linked up well with his midfield. After a manic opening, it was crucial that GCS took something away from their positive play and when Valerio struck a 20-yard shot goal bound time seemed to stand still as Owen stretched and got the faintest of touches to send the ball into the back of the net. The team ~as we had seen all year~ dug deep and their late equalsing goal secured more league points and victory was still in sight.
The team moved into their penultimate match knowing that a win was required and after going one nil down early in the game (to GEMS Wellington Academy) a test of resilience was now on display. Gabe, as he had done all season, battled on and inspired his team mates to raise their game. Owen linked up well with Nicolo and the energetic Valerio asked many questions from his opponent’s goalkeeper. Vladic once more kept the Under 10’s in the game but the team’s tank reached empty and ‘GWA’ secured a well-deserved win.
On leaving Greenfield this afternoon, the team’s principal ~Mr Woods~ had told the squad ‘Tough times don’t last but tough people do.’ This was the message that the team were reminded of as they entered their sixth and final game of the season. They faced Regent and after composing themselves from their latest setback, our Under 10’s delighted the crowds in their final joust of the afternoon. Each member of the team made every moment of the game count: tackling hard, encouraging others, holding positions, passing and moving into space and a display of togetherness that a fleet of Red Arrows would admire. Their flair and love of the beautiful game shone through and when Omar sent a final corner into the Regent defensive box, it was fitting to see GCS rise to their final challenge when Hadi B climbed above all others to head the ball into the back of the net. GCS had signed off with another win and their season had come to a winning end.
A truly inspirational afternoon and one that will certainly be remembered. There are not enough superlatives to describe our Under 10 football squad this year. The boys, through their actions, had displayed the true sense of any sports. A coming together of trust and unity to bring out the best in everyone.
“Sir, you’ve brought us to Disneyland,” were the first words spoken as the team entered Repton this afternoon.
“Team, it’s the great people inside that building which makes it a palace,” was the coaches final reply.
Greenfield is full of such people: parents, staff and students, who all do so much to make our school such a wonderful community.
Congratulations Under 10’s on yet another amazing season.
Contributed by: Coach Vincent Burden
Grade 3 Teacher