The 2016 BWCI Mini Soccer Festival was the tenth occasion that it had been sponsored by BWCI and once again showcased why the Festival remains a highlight in the Channel Islands sporting calendar.
Over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th July, twenty three teams and over 250 players enjoyed some great weather and fantastic competition as they competed for the BWCI Shield and Plate trophies. With eleven local teams, including two from the GFA Aztec Academy, four teams from Jersey and eight from England, including six professional academy teams, the Festival again illustrated its popularity and reputation for being a fantastic event.
Over the course of the two days of competition, the hundreds of spectators saw some fantastic team and individual performances, culminating in the BWCI Shield being decided for the first time in the Festival’s history by a penalty shoot-out. Group A began the Festival on the Saturday morning, and Grouville and Everton FC Academy both showed in the first matches why they would compete for top place in the Group with comfortable victories before playing out a very competitive 0-0 draw between themselves in the second round of matches. Also in Group A, Rangers Red were unlucky to lose 2-1 to the strong professional academy team, Saints FC who were also fortunate to defeat another local team, UCF Sylvans, after coming back from conceding two early goals to win 3-2. Arguably the most impressive result from the local teams was the battling 0-0 draw that the GFA Aztec Lions claimed against Saints FC. The final positions in Group A were not decided until the last round of matches and Rangers Red claimed the final qualifying place for the Shield with a nervy draw against UCF sylvan, to deny their opponent that same final qualifying place.
In Group B, the professional academy teams from Fulham and Southampton produced a fantastic first match with Fulham edging the result 1-0 and would go on to finish top of the table, although they came under pressure from first time entrants, Guildford City, in a hard fought 0-0 draw. Guildford were also unlucky to lose a close game 1-0 to another professional academy team, Bristol City Robins. For the local teams in Group B, St Martins AC produced the standout performances in earning a well-deserved 1-0 win over Southampton FC and a battling point in a 0-0 draw against Bristol City Robins. Once again, the final round of matches decided which teams would qualify for the knock-out stages of the Festival with a Grand Fort Road derby between Vale Rec and Rihoy North ultimately proving decisive as a late goal from Rihoy North gave them a 1-0 win and the final qualifying place in Group B.
As ever, the knock-out matches provided great excitement and after beating the Aztec Lions in the quarter-finals of the Plate competition, St Martins were unlucky to be eliminated in a penalty shoot-out to St Pauls, who would go on to beat St Brelade and claim the Plate trophy for the first time. In the Shield competition, there was no great surprise to see the academy teams from Everton FC and Southampton FC contest the final, which was a repeat of the 2014 competition. On this occasion, there was no score at the end of an entertaining match and both teams were faced with the pressure of the Shield being decided by penalty shoot-out for the first time ever. Showing great composure, it was Everton that prevailed and claimed the Shield trophy for a seventh consecutive year.
Festival Chairman, Martyn Banton, commented that;
‘Once again the BWCI Festival has delivered another fantastic experience for all of those children that have enjoyed participating. We have seen some really impressive performances but perhaps more importantly, the Festival has been played in a great spirit. As always we are indebted to the Festival’s headline sponsor, BWCI, who have now sponsored this event for ten years and have committed to a further two years. Without this support, and that of the companies in the sponsorship consortium, an event of this stature simply could not be delivered and it is this continued support, which is greatly appreciated by the Guernsey Football Association. In addition there are numerous other people that I would like to place on record our gratitude to, including the numerous local Referees that gave up their time this weekend, Simon Charlwood for his continued support, Shane Moon and Clive Loveridge who have ensured Footes Lane stadium was again the perfect host venue and finally to the GFA staff and Directors who have spent a considerable amount of time planning and delivering another successful Festival.’
The provisional dates for the 2017 BWCI Festival are 22nd and 23rd July.
To view a short film of the 2016 BWCI Festival please click here.