I didn’t really have any affiliation to a club as a kid. Definitely not of the round ball variety. So I wasn’t exposed to the excitement and joy that is a junior football tournament.
This weekend I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Douglas Villa Junior Tournament. I have no real affiliation with the club – a friend introduced me – and I didn’t know what to expect. I was told that it was a great day not only for the kids but for the volunteers as well. Having also been that it was a pretty tight group of volunteers I wasn’t sure how, as an outsider, I would fit in. That’s not important though – it’s for the kids.
There were marquees galore. Umbrellas were everywhere. And mud was the order of the day.
Teams had travelled to Masterton from Wellington, Whanganui, locally and even as far afield as Nelson (I’ll get to them a bit later). Parents and coaches roamed the side lines and were supportive of the kids, less so towards the referees in some instances (in discussing this last point with another volunteer, he observed that the kids he was refereeing would cast their heads downwards in embarrassment at this behaviour).
My role was rather insignificant in the grand scheme, I can only imagine how much actual organisation went in before I even said I’d help out. But there I was at 7:30 am on Saturday morning (asking myself why) helping put up nets in the rain and getting things ready for day one. The senior players played a big part refereeing games, the club stalwarts were making sure things were running smoothly and the 14th grade boys were running scores from the pitches to the official tent. I spent most of my day keeping score on the two 13th grade pitches. From what I saw, the kids had an awesome day – playing football, showing off their bicycle kicks and juggling skills during a break, supporting their friends (or in one confusing case, their rivals to a spot in the semi-final), and getting very muddy. It was a great vibe.
Mirimar took out the 13th Grade competition, coming out 5-1 victors over Upper Hutt. Having watched the grade all day I would have to say (my personal opinion) that Mirimar were worthy winners. Despite having some very talented, stand-out players, they played as a team throughout the day and I didn’t see any frustration from them. On that note though quote of the day goes to a KCU 13th Grade Player who asked to be subbed because “I’m just getting so frustrated” (said whilst flapping his arms in despair).
It was also great to see the younger players out there having fun and doing a great job on the field – I’m pretty sure at their age I would have been more interested in picking daisies or making mud pies.
Unfortunately Sunday’s “even” tournament (Grades 8, 10, 12 and 14) was postponed due to the pitch conditions and road slips/closures. I understand that it was a tough decision to make but one that needed to happen. I daresay there were some pretty disappointed kids around. There was a Nelson 12th Grade team who had flown up Saturday ready to play on Sunday. At a guess they were the most disappointed of the lot. A couple of games were set up with Douglas Villa sides so that the Nelson team didn’t come all the way for nothing and I think that’s a huge credit to the club being able to make something work.
Despite the Sunday weather and the early start, the volunteers were at it again early. This time taking down the nets and goalposts, dismantling the marquees, getting rid of the port-a-loos (I avoided that job) and doing a general tidy up of the pitches and clubrooms. Oh and there may have been a bit of puddle jumping going on.
As I said earlier the volunteers for the weekend were all club/community based and I think that’s what makes this tournament special. It’s created in the spirit of fun and camaraderie and community and family. The spirit of football.
Thanks to the crew at Douglas Villa. I had a great weekend and will not hesitate to volunteer in the future. If they’ll have me.
“The most memorable days always end with the dirtiest clothes” I found this quote on the web and think it sums up the weekend pretty well. If not for the kids, then definitely for me.
Categories: Youth Football