Socks were pulled and laces were tightened as all the sections prepared for the annual Inter-Sectional Football tournament – COPA. The tournament was to start on the 1st day of September but the lords of the weather had different ideas. The tournament was delayed by a day following rains and finally kicked off on the 2nd of September, 2016.
The delay though, if anything, only added to the excitement as students turned up to watch the maiden match of the tournament between the Barbarians and the Junior Section-B team. What followed was nothing short of a revelation. Both the teams played with the highest of intensities and grit throughout the match. The balance ultimately tilted towards the Junior Section-B as they beat one of the favorites by a goal to nil. This result set a tone for the rest of the competition and unpredictability was the only predictable thing. The second day was no less exciting. In the early kickoff, the Airavats and the Junior Section-C teams locked horns. The match was started in full throttle by the Airavats who eventually ended up on the losing side at the end. Junior Section-C beat them by 2-0 to progress to the next round. What followed was a marvelous display of grit by Junior Section-D who faced Crusaders in their first match. At the blow of the final whistle, Crusaders ended up on the losing side with the sole goal from the Junior Section-D being the difference.That was the end of the early fixtures and all eyes waited for the evening fixture between Shehzaades and Junior FBE team. The Junior FBE already impressed the crowd before kickoff as their lineup included 3 girls amongst other boys. The result though wasn’t on the same side. A stellar display from the Shehzaades saw them win the match by 2-0. The third day of the competition began with an early kickoff between the Dronas and the BBA-MBA teams’ pursuit of the winning moment. The Dronas, with a dominating display, lead at the end of the first half by 1-0 and seemed to be the ones going into the next round. The BBA-MBA team had different ideas though. A comeback from them saw the Dronas on the losing side as the match ended with 2-1 to the BBA-MBA team. With this, the first round of games ended as Junior Section-A had got a Bye. All the Junior sections, barring the Junior FBE, moved into the next round along with the BBA-MBA and the Shehzaades. The two teams that won by 2 goals directly moved to the Semi-Finals ( Shehzaade and Junior Section-C) while the others had to compete for the spots of Semi-Finalists.
The evening kickoff on the third day saw Junior-B team fighting it out with the Junior-D team to earn the semi-final spot. With both teams giving it their all, Junior-B managed to clinch the tie with one goal to nil as they proceeded to the Semis. The other Quarter-final between the Junior-A team and the BBA-MBA team couldn’t kickoff as the BBA-MBA team couldn’t turn up for the fixture and Junior-A were given a direct ticket to the Semis.
The semi-finals took place in the early hours of the fourth day. The first fixture was between the Junior-B and Junior-C. A scintillating display of a resilient defense from Junior-C against the relentless attack of Junior-B was on display. The match seemed to end in a deadlock until Junior-B got a penalty following a handball from one of the Junior-C player. The penalty though, was saved by the keeper who unfortunately guided the rebound to another Junior-B player who managed to convert the chance into the winning goal. That was the moment of success and Junior-B qualified to the final of the competition and assured themselves a medal. The second semi-final was then played between the Shehzaades and the Junior-A teams to determine who’d be fighting the Junior-B team for the all-coveted title. The match began with some dominance from Junior-A and an equally patient attitude from the Shehzaades. Both the teams failed to score within the regulation time which meant the match would be decided by penalty shoot-out. The pressure was high and the reward great. With the Junior-A players converting all their shots and one of the Shehzaades missing theirs, the Junior-A team clinched the spot in the Finals by 5-4 in the penalties.
All eyes were on the two teams that had made it to the Final of the tournament, Junior-A and Junior-B. The intensity was as high as it could possibly get and both the teams were prepared to put everything on the line for the glory that could follow. The match kicked off and wait for the revelation of the Champions was now only a few minutes. The Junior-B team dominated the initial moments of the match with a goal in the early minutes giving them the lead over the opposition. The organized game from the Junior-B seemed to have made them the favorites to win the game. The Junior-A boys had different ideas in their minds. It didn’t take a long time for the Junior-A team to rise from the early deficit and get their heads up. The second half saw the Junior-A team consistently putting pressure on the opposition with relentless attacks. This pressure ultimately led to a late late equalizer from the Junior-A team and the regulation time ended with a score 1-1. What followed was an extra time of 10 minutes with 2 halves. The high-intense drama continued in the extra time with Junior-B scoring a goal only to be disallowed later due to a foul. The scores remained at parity post the extra time as well. The penalties would decide the winner! It was a similar scenario for the Junior-A who had already came out as winners in a penalty shootout in the semis. For Junior-B though, the shootouts seemed to be an unexplored territory. This became evident as the shootout started. The players from Junior-A all converted their shots while the Junior-B team did the exact opposite. With the Captain of the Junior-B missing his shot at the goal, the Junior-A emerged as the Champions with a score-line of 3-0 in the penalties. Scenes of celebration followed as Junior-A had done something which other Section-A teams had failed to do in recent years. The sportsmanship though didn’t vanish in the fountain of celebrations. Players from both teams appreciated the efforts from each other to be the best two teams of the tournament.
The teams also appreciated the efforts of the SportzzzComm for organizing the event with such swiftness despite the weather conditions not exactly being in their favor.