INTERNATIONAL SOCCER IN NEW ZEALAND by yiq68006

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									               INTERNATIONAL SOCCER IN NEW ZEALAND
Teams from Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America assembled in Auckland over
the Easter weekend, from the 14th to the 17th April 2006 to take part in the FANCA
tournament. This is the fifth tournament of FANCA and the first one held in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Muslim Youth & Sports Association (NZMYSA) and the Fiji Muslim
Sports Federation hosted this venture jointly. For this event to take place there were months
of planning, heaps of meetings and arranging of all the finer details.

“There were times when I had second thoughts and doubts over our capability to arrange this
international event here in New Zealand. But my team rallied around and put in a tremendous
amount of energy and dedication to make it the success that it was,” was the comment of Sher
Jewan, the President of the NZMYSA, on the final day of this event.

The opening ceremony took place on Friday, after the traditional Jummah prayer at the Bill
McKinly Park in Penrose, Auckland. The participating teams marched through a guard of
honour formed by the host team and took up their respective positions on the ground. The
visiting participating teams, their supporters and the spectators were given a traditional Maori
welcome by Jim Rauwhiro, the Kaumatua from Tainui who was assisted by the local cultural
Maori group as well as Paul Pita a Maori advisor. This was followed by words of good
wishes from the various representatives of the participating countries. The Minister of Ethnic
Affairs, Hon. Chris Carter, officially welcomed all the guests and declared the games open.

Each participating nation was invited to enter soccer teams in three categories, viz; premier,
veterans and under 21. Unfortunately only three teams, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand
participated in the U 21 games. America and Australia did not enrol any players in their
veterans’ games. The lack of funds and the high cost of travel were justified reasons for the
non-participation in these events. Fortunately, this shortfall was substituted by non-
representative players from New Zealand to fill the program as well as provide entertainment
to the spectators.

There was strict observance of the rules and regulations of FANCA. “As per FANCA rules 4
non-Fijian players were allowed in each of the teams with the proviso that only three were on
the field at any one time. It was heartening to see Muslim players from other nationalities join
forces with the Fijians in this sporting bonanza,” said Br. Israr Sheikh, who was appointed the
games controller.

A total of twenty two games were played over the 4 days of eliminations to decide on the
finalists. One veterans match between Australia and USA was mutually defaulted due to lack
of players in both teams. Team officials, players and spectators alike were treated with some
spectacular display of skills by players young and old from all the countries.

The Game officials displayed impartiality and referees did not hesitate to flash cards for any
infringements to maintain the standard of the game. The four day event was a huge success in
terms of the standards of games produced by teams and finished with the desired results
which saw Fiji, Australia and New Zealand bag the major prizes.

Games were scheduled to allow time for salaat and alhamdolillah a number of players and
some spectators took part in the prayers arranged on the grounds. It was also encouraging to
note that a number of players joined in to take part in the prayers. However we noted a slight
indication of disappointment by the games controller, “As
a Muslim we would imagine that people would take part in prayers where provision is made
but, it was sad to see that some Muslim brothers sitting around and missing their salaat. May
ALLAH (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) give all of us hidayah to fulfil our duty,” said Br Israr
Sheikh in his report.

The grand final was indeed a showcase where the atmosphere electric, the ground in superb
condition and the weather a divine gift from ALLAH (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). Both teams:
the defending champions Fiji and hosts New Zealand assembled in front of the main dais
with their match officials to observe the national anthems.

The games lived up to its expectations with short crisp passing and ball skills from both
teams. New Zealand was awarded a penalty in the first quarter of the game when Sarfaraz
Khan, the vice captain, made no mistake in finding the net and putting the hosts ahead by 1
goal to nil. New Zealand managed to maintain this lead until the final whistle despite
tremendous pressure from Fiji.

For New Zealand it was a dream come true having played in four of the five FANCA finals
without a win. For Fiji it was sad loss as it brought to an end their grip on the trophy. A
jubilant New Zealand, captain Zainal Sahib, supported by his deputy Sarfaraz and the rest of
the team thanked the players, team officials, organisers, and spectators for their continued
support.

 It was sad to note that one of the Canadian players sustained severe injury that led to his
hospitalization in the final stages of the event.

RESULTS
Premier
New Zealand 1 Fiji 0

Veterans
New Zealand winners and Fiji Runners up

Under 21
Australia winners and Fiji runners up

								
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