Bank holiday Friday saw 39 Lions in the Community Youth FC players together with a strong coaching team in Lincolnshire for a weekend of football against strong opposition from all over the UK.
The U12s, being the only one of the three teams with tournament experience, were hoping for a fast start but a 0-0 draw against Benfleet Youth left them frustrated.
They regrouped against Mere Green but another below par performance resulted in a 2-0 defeat and leaving them needing a positive result in their final game.
Again the Lions started slow, trailing 2-0 at the break. However, the Lions responded to coach Dean Stow’s half- time team talk and came roaring back with goals from Leighton and Caelen Geary giving a 5-2 victory and send them in to day two full of confidence. Day two was a much more positive as they recorded two comprehensive wins over Garforth Villa 4-0 and eventual finalists Drumsagard to secure runners-up in their group.
They missed out on a place in the final by two points but leaving with their heads held high.
The newly-formed Simplyhealth sponsored U12 girls, coached by Shaun Hemmings, entered the tournament with limited competitive experience and, with many playing in a competition a year or two above their age bracket.
In deteriorating weather gainst local side Cleethorpes Town the girls took a while to find their stride and Cleethorpes capitalised with some confident finishing.
The girls improved in their last match with the result in the balance until late in the game where the opposition inflicted a narrow defeat on the Lions to wrap up day one.
All the reverse matches were defined by single moments of quality from their more experienced opponents and at the end of the tournament the LITC girls were being credited for both their play and attitude This season’s newly formed LITC U11 boys, coached by Jamie Dockree had a very successful first day, accruing a maximum nine points from their three games.
Goals from Sam Churchill and Thomas Yates secured a 2-0 victory over Saxon Juniors and they carried this momentum into their second game and a brave finish from Josh Jeffrey as well as further goals from Jack Harvey, Sam Churchill and an own goal giving the Lions a comfortable 4-0 victory.
They rounded off day one with a tough looking fixture against Grange Town. Another strong performance resulted in a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Sam Thomson, a brilliant swerving shot from 20 yards, and a Josh Jeffrey header meaning they would top the group overnight.
A 1-1 draw in their opening game on day two, a header from Harvey salvaging a point, meant the Lions needed a victory in their final game to advance to the final.
A narrow 1-0 win over Cleethorpes thanks to a spectacular Kai Henderson strike was enough to see the young Lions qualify for the final having finished their group with four wins and a draw.
The final saw them paired with Mawsley from Kettering who had won all their group games to reach the final. After a goalless first and with the wind on their backs the Lions started the second half the stronger and took the lead thanks to a smart finish from Thomas Yates.
Kial Mumford’s cross then caught the keeper by surprise at the near post and the Lions had one hand on the trophy.
A Mawsley goal set up a grandstand finish, but the Lions stood firm to secure the title in their first tournament together and would later collect the trophy from former Liverpool player Dietmar Hamann in front of the vocal travelling support to bring an end to a fantastic weekend of Football.
Lions in the Community are seeking to continue running their teams and tournament project in 2014/2015 and are seeking sponsorship for the scheme for teams at U11, U12 and U13 boys.
Any companies’ and individuals interested in getting involved should contact Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.