It was from all over the Township of West Point they came: all 12 U-6/7 and U-8/9 to celebrate a one-day soccer tournament organized by DonamiSports, under the sponsorship of Vision Collaborators Incorporated last Saturday.
The venue was, of course, the West Point sports pitch in Monrovia and, with the theme: “Da Our Own Time Now,” hundreds of kids, in their well-fitting uniforms provided by DonamiSports to the more than sixteen soccer teams in two aged groups, went through the elimination series to build up the final count down and left two teams, one from each group, standing for the finals.
In the end, Ozil United FC and West Point Academy survived the elimination series and crushed their opponents to reach the quarter-finals and the finals stages. There was jubilation all over as the teams reached their semi-final and final stages.
Among the crowd were Doc Lawson, president and chief executive officer of DonamiSports, a United States and Liberia based not for profit grassroots soccer development entity, officials of Vision Collaborators, whose president said he chose to sponsor the tournament because of his love for kids, pointing out that he lost his son, several months ago.
Playing consistent with the theme of the tournament (Da Our Time Now), the first ever such a tournament to be organized in the township, the young players, most of them discarding their boots to play barefoot because of the nature of the field, sent the crowd yelling for goals at every stage of the competition.
Present was Deputy Minister for Sports, G. Andy Quamie, who came to see how the kids were enjoying themselves playing against each other. Even DonamiSports CEO, Doc Lawson, whose idea it was for the tournament, was overwhelmed by the level of the kids’ interest in the match.
The climax of the tournament came when two teams (Ozil United FC and West Point Academy) went against West Point Kru Beach and Jr. Real Madrid respectively. One from each age group emerged as winners in the finals and had to go through penalty shootouts, after regulation time, to win in their respective category. The crowd was in a frenzy as Ozil United FC won on penalties on one side and West Point Kru Beach FC also won their game through penalties on the other side of the field.
What lent credibility to the tournament was the fact that each of the numerous teams that took part in the tournament were already formed as a group, which meant that they were not hurriedly put together because of the match.
Of course, the number of kids in the community was amazing, as many more kids kept coming complaining that they had their group to participate in the tournament.
Identified carefully were kids with a deeper knowledge of the game who showed great understanding in their personal touch on the ball, and there were mid-fielders who were able to juggle the ball and moved it deeper into their opponents’ area before sending the ball to their strikers.
There were also near-misses as strikers ventured boldly in their opponents’ defense, as the young fans cheered as the ball hit the side post or crossed the bar.
There were their adult coaches on the sidelines yelling to direct their kid players to know what to do on the field to get the goals. Such moments were enjoyed by the kids as they had the game to themselves.
As kids celebrated each goal scored, they rejoiced till the final celebration as both Ozil United and West Point Kru Beach FC received their trophies and began to jubilate throughout the township into the wee hours of the night.
“This is a great tournament for the kids,” a parent said. “They need to do it again in the future.” That was the objective of the organizers, to give the kids a period to rejoice while they were the masters of the game.
The tournament’s coordinator, Josiah Toe, with twenty years in sports administration, had his team on hand to ensure that the games were successful, along with representatives from the YMCA Monrovia. It was a memorable tournament in which several of the kids would come re-organized the next time so that they could show their talents. Overall, it was a success story again for DonamiSports and its partners, to develop young footballers from grassroots, coordinator Josiah Toe said. At the end of the tournament every player received a medal for participation from DonamiSports.