To a better and stronger Supergirls

After 6 wins and 1 draw, it all came down to one single opponent, Anza from Singapore, to decide which team goes through to the finals at the JSSL International Football Tournament.

Anza had been the champion for Team A and we knew we had an upheaval battle waiting for us after defeating Proveda from phillipine 2-0 which moved us up to meet Anza.

Day 3 had been the hottest and most challenging day in this tournament. Playing on turf grass at 1pm, in the hot unforgiving sun was pretty exhausting.

After their first match, against Proveda, the girls only had half hour to catch their breath and medicate injuries sustained before meeting Anza. They were hastily rushed off to pitch 1 for their next match.

Minutes after the whistle went off, Rania scored a goal, giving us the lead and the confidence we needed because it was an extremely nerve wracking to be pitted against last year’s JSSL champs.

If I thought the Tai Tam Tigers from Hong Kong were big players, Anza were twice of that. These girls were very experienced and mentally strong because the first nil advantage didn’t dampen their spirit even a wee bit. It only made them stronger and more fierce in their game.

This 1-0 lead was short lived after an equalizer goal from the opposing team and one immediately after that was scored. Just as day turns into night, casting a blanket of darkness, it was clearly visible, Supergirls had lost hope.

The fatigue which they hid well up to this point suddenly began to show. Their game got a lot slower and focused all their energy at ensuring no more goals were scored by Anza. 3-1 was the score and that marked the end of Supergirls journey in this tournament.

It was quite heartbreaking to see these girls unable to move to finals after playing so well over the past three days. It was time to let these girls digest their journey at their own pace. But some are already talking about what should be done for next year’s tournament.

There is hope. There’s always hope.

To a better and stronger Supergirls.

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Come what may

That was the mindset we went with to JSSL International​ football tournament in Singapore: A tournament with over 200 teams from across Asia, 3000 players and at 10 different venues.

Being pitted against teams with more experience, as some of these teams have been in this international tournament since its inception, in 2013, was a little nerve wracking for me but not to the Supergirls. All these girls wanted was to play and were looking forward to get on the pitch for some challenge.

It was time to see the fruitation of all the hard work and dedication put in by the players, team managers, coaches and parents. Time to let these girls put into practice what they have been training all these ardeous months.

It’s​ amazing how much these girls have matured in their game. For the past two days we have witnessed a proper footballing team. Each Supergirl played with gusto and knew how to handle her position. Most of them were determined and were focused. They had a lot more stamina too and played 22 minutes straight which is alot longer than what they are used to.

Even the coaches seemed more relaxed compared to previous tournaments​. There was very little coaching whilst the girls were playing because the girls perfectly executed the coaches’ strategies. Kudos to coaches and team director for their time spent strategising.

Day 1 had been quite good. The weather was perfect; cloudy with a chance of rain but it stayed dry. Our first match took almost an hour because the lightening sirens went off twice and we were forced to evacuate the field. The girls didn’t mind this small break as it gave them some rest time and a chance for the coaches to regroup and re-strategise.

Supergirls’ first opponent, JSSL Stoney from Singapore​, was a good ice breaker into the tournament and we won 1-0. The girls struggled to get  their rythm especially with the interruption from the weather but Rania managed to squeeze in a  side goal giving us the victory in the last couple of minutes.

The second match, against LFA also from Singapore, saw a brilliant goal by Rania at the early stages  of the game and was finished off by a  wonderful tap-in by Sabrina.

Day 2 was a little tougher. The sun was like ripe bright orange ball in the sky, shining ever so brightly. Our first game was against Tim Tam Tigers from Hong Kong. It was an extremely tough encounter. Our opponents were all equally larger than any of our players except Asheesh.

But with some smart planning and tactics from our coaches, we managed to hold our ground and not allow a single goal to pierce through. Tim Tam had already built a good reputation for themselves by leaving their opponents with 5 nil defeat. Brave defending got us a well deserved draw.

Next match was against Davao City Philippines. Both teams has a friendly cheer and chats before getting on to the pitch as opponents. Davao’s team JC was familiar with Supergirls’ as they met at Barcelona Soccer Camp through the Kem Bola programme.

We saw another a win towards the end of the match when Adriana scored a goal moments after entering as a substitute with a great pass from Rania.

By the time we got to our last match against JSSL Elite 2, many girls were already exhausted and having made it through to quarter finals, by being second in the table, the coaches decided to shake things up. With only Asheesh, Yasmin and Rania from the previous game. The game was won by a long range looping shot from Kanchen that was enough to beat the team.

The girls were clearly tired but are equally excited for tomorrow.

 

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To be in the moment

VIP seat at Camp Nou, Catalonia Spain. Also experienced the media room and the tunnel players walk through before match.

Firstly I am amazed at how far my first born has made it in her footie adventure. When they first joined this amazing all girls football team, never in a million years did my daughters, my husband or I ever dreamt of it giving us such a wonderful experience.

It was May 2015, one bright sunny evening. My husband and I nervously approached some moms and dads at the USJ 4 field. It was hard to get their attention because they were busy laying out food for their Vasakhi potluck party, which later we learned is something these crazy awesome bunch of volunteers from the Subang Jaya Community Sports Club (SJCSC), love doing.

Many were dressed in fine Punjabi suits and the men, wore their favourite Kurtis. Some non Punjabis even donned on the turbans. How cool was that?

I was in my old tattered jeans (one of my few favourite posession which I had been wearing for over a decade) and my husband in his usual loose football shorts and oversized sandals. Both my girls begged us to turn back because they too felt out of place. I’m glad my husband, a football lover, did what he does best when it comes to football, he walked right up and asked if my girls could join them. The rest is history.

It took a lot dedication and we had to give up our bum lifestyles; which was spending the whole weekend cooped up in our house watching television.

Every weekend we were would drag ourselves out of the house and onto the field for football training. During tournament season, it was mapping KL roads. Going to places we would normally never go and spending our whole morning and afternoon at these tournaments.

Most of these tournaments would start about 7.30 (we meet early to warm up together) and end about 2 pm if we are lucky but usually can last until 3 or 4 pm.

 

SEE ALSO: Their first tournament

Every weekend there is football, if it’s not a tournament then it would be training. As tough as it sounds, it is a lot of fun too.

It’s lovely to see these girls, ages between 5 to 13 years old meet up and train. It’s not just about football, it’s more than that. Although they meet only once a week but the connection between them is good. They always seemed eager to train, which is a positive attitude.

We are lucky to have such a dedicated team coordinator and awesome team committee. These people not only jive well with each other but are genuinely interested in helping girls in their football journey.

They get them into tournaments so it would give these girls the confidence they need. Even if it means joining all boys tournaments and playing against all boys teams because football is still, a male dominated sport.

But luckily Astro Kasih saw the gap and decided to give equal opportunity to young girls, and a footing in football. They are helping both young girls and boys by giving them a invaluable experience.

And that’s how my daughter ended up in Barcelona, Spain for a 10 day overseas football training camp at FCB Escola.

It’s brilliant what she is experiencing at this moment. Would there be more opportunities for girls in football? We and many parents have our fingers crossed.

But for time being, we are just taking one step at a time and enjoying her journey. Hoping she would be able to do more when she returns and help others along the way.

With Dani Alves at a beach in Barcelona

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