| Football | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 28 February 2016 | Jag |
It was a coming of age of sorts for the Supergirls, as they assembled at Sekolah Kebangsaan Cochrane’s football field this morning. Two years ago, this team made way into this very same tournament as complete unknowns. Outsiders remarking that they were participating for the sake of participating and these girls posed no threat. Yet, the Supergirls surprised everyone that year by making their way all way into the semi finals. It was that very first tournament of theirs that raised eyebrows immediately and winning the hearts of neutrals along the way.
This time around, the Supergirls came in numbers as well as quality. This year, they were unknowns no more and for the first time since its inception, two teams were set up under Coach Patrick’s tutelage; the under 10 team decked in a new striking green yellow jersey and the under 8 team in their ever so recognizable pink.
The under 8 team set the motion for the day with leadership under senior players such as Lakeisha and Sabrina marshaling their newly recruited teammates, and Sandra donning the goalie gloves. Lakeisha bellowed orders ensuring that her teammates knew what to do as she directed them while Sabrina harassed the opposing defenders to no end, almost scoring from mistakes forced. Sandra the petite sized goalie, never shirked from her responsibilities as the keeper and performed stunts to deflect strong shots at every juncture of the game.
Sisters Amerah and Safura were outstanding newbies providing the steel in midfield. Their opponents typically resorted to scrumming for the ball with no sense of organization, but these girls resorted to playing with a little more structure. With Amerah’s powerful kick chipping in the goals and Safura trying her best to dribble out of ten other sticking out legs.
Supergirls has many new faces and this tournament was a first for many of these girls especially the under 8 team but this did not show on the football field. Such as Bianca’s pixie like movement was a joy to watch camouflaging her small stature.
Leyla who probably had donned football boots since she was a toddler was fearless on the pitch. Running like the wind, the weight of living up to her elder sister’s reputation as an emerging powerhouse of an attacking winger was not evident in the slightest case. She was completely focused and gave her all in the match. Raina was obviously proud, standing on the sidelines watching her younger sister Leyla flourish.
Another warrior of a player was also emerging within the ranks with her timely crunching sliding tackles, becoming more and more of a norm as each game went by. Fearless Dareena didn’t take any nonsense in defense, much to the delight of Coach Patrick. And finally there was Darrene, tall and slender but agile, who fought hard throughout all games. Nobody could tell that this was her first tournament.
The under 8 team won 1, drew 3 and lost 1 game on their way to the semi-finals but succumbed 0-1. Nevertheless, they walked home with their heads held up high and with a nice shiny medals around their necks. The exposure was another feather in their now growing cap.
Meanwhile, the more experienced under 10 team went about their business like hardened experienced players. There was determination in their eyes, as opposed to bewilderment two years back. They knew in their hearts that they could put up a fight with any other team in the tournament. This was evident as they walked into the pitch every single time. There wasn’t the awkwardness of playing against the rough and tumble of teams comprising of bullying boys. In fact, there was a tinge of arrogance that they could be tougher if push came to shove. And it was evident in their play. More structured, not afraid to pass the ball back and confident in each other’s capabilities.
As the sun punished them with the relentless heat, they played with a gusto aplomb. In the goal, the now residential keeper Yasmin was confident as ever. Her injury from before already a buried memory. Her catlike movements and agility saw her save a penalty in one of the tougher games that saved the game from being lost.
The budding defensive partnership of Asheesh and Jade was clear as the day. Both worked hard, communicating well and ensuring the line was always ready for the onslaught from the sides. Another facet of their maturity was the fearlessness when their wall actually blocked strong hard shots during free kicks.
Providing cover for the defense and taking the penetrating dead ball kicks was the colossal Thurga. Her ruthlessness stroke fear as each game went by, her crunching tackles quite often left opposing players on the floor, typically boys of her size. She took no prisoners.
On the wings, Ashley provided the brains. She deputized Thurga, helping out with the defense at the midfield, ensuring attacks from the wings never materializing. She was the communicator amongst the rest. Screaming at the defense to take their man all the time.
Then, there was Raina, the mazy winger. Her brilliance on the wings, linking up from the midfield with Thurga well, showed a more matured and intelligent player. She was unselfish with the strikers, beating 2 or 3 before making the cutting edge pass. But it was inevitable that she took things into her own hands when the time came, scoring a beautiful goal with a brilliant run.
On the front, Kanchen was the pressing striker, tireless in forcing mistakes from her opposing defenders. She dropped deep when needed to help the midfield and held the ball for her midfielders to catch up. A few chances were there for the taking, time will tell if she learns more from these misses.
Kayeen was the newbie in the team, still learning from her teammates. But when called upon by Coach Patrick, she was more than happy to oblige. Her screams were loud asking for the ball all the time and as a second striker, she used her height well. She even held the ball well on the wings, with 3 defenders bamboozled as she passed to Raina during one of the games.
These girls did well, losing 1, winning 1 and drawing 1. In the end, it was the dreaded penalty shootout that failed them as their shots hit the post twice to deny them a place at the semi-final berth.
From a neutral’s perspective, the Supergirls in the under 10 team have finally arrived as contenders of the day and not just another team. Much will be expected from them here onwards.