The 2017 BWCI Mini Soccer Festival was the eleventh 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 22nd and 23rd July, twenty two teams and over 250 players enjoyed some fantastic competition, despite the challenging weather, as they competed for the BWCI Shield and Plate trophies. With ten local teams, including two from the GFA Aztec Academy, six teams from Jersey and six from England, including five 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 with a repeat of the 2016 final as Everton again played against one of the Southampton FC academy teams, Saints FC. Group A began the Festival on the Saturday morning, and Everton, Grouville and Bristol City, who all ultimately qualified for the Shield competition, began with victories. Saints FC however, were held to a spirited and deserved 1-1 draw by Sylvans, which was arguably the most impressive result from a Guernsey club team on the first day. The final positions in Group A were not decided until the last round of matches and Everton’s victory over Grouville in the final group match ensured that they finished top of the group, whilst Grouville took the final qualifying place for the Shield competition.
In Group B, St Clement completed the first day with seven victories from seven matches, including an impressive 4-2 victory over Bristol City Robins, whilst Braunton also impressed when claiming a 2-0 win over Southampton FC. Group B proved to be very close, with six teams all competing for the top four positions going into the last two rounds of fixtures, which ended with St Clement, Braunton, Southampton FC and Bristol City Robins qualifying for the Shield quarter-finals.
Great credit also goes to the GFA Aztec Academy Year 4 teams, which both qualified for the Plate quarter-finals, despite competing against teams that for the most part were a year older. However, the quarter-finals was as far as both teams made, with the Tigers and Lions losing to JTC Jersey Wanderers and St Pauls Yellow respectively, who ended up reaching the final of the Plate competition. in a very close Plate final it was St Pauls who prevailed and took the retained the trophy they had won in 2016.
The Shield quarter-finals, and subsequent semi-finals all proved very competitive, but once again it was the same teams that progressed to the final, in what was a repeat of the 2016 Festival. The final itself, was a match of great quality, but despite Saints FC creating several chances, it was Everton who scored a late winner, to claim the trophy for a tenth time.
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. Despite the challenging weather on the first day, 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 eleven years and have committed to a further year. 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 2018 BWCI Festival are 21st and 22nd July.
To view photos of the Festival, please click here; www.gsyphoto.com