After a year in waiting, one of the most anticipated sporting events returned with great excitement. On Sunday 25 May 2008, Alperton Goals in London hosted the second Yagnapurush Cup – the UK’s national Yuvak Mandal 5-a-side football tournament.
Twenty-three teams had entered the competition with one aim in mind – to be crowned champions of 2008. The day started wet and windy while the preparations were under way, but the grey clouds soon dispersed and made way for the opening ceremony conducted in the traditional manner by Aksharcharan Swami in the presence of Harikrishna Maharaj.
Last year’s winners North A started with a flourish and showed their dominance by scoring 10 goals in the group stages. Birmingham A, South A, Harrow & Brent A and Leicester A all finished strong in their respective groups. The surprise team of the tournament was South C finishing top of their group, and pushing last year’s runners-up Southend-on-Sea into third place at the end of the group stage.
The second round provided more embarrassment as tournament favourites Leicester A lost out to Wellingborough and Birmingham A fell 2-0 to South B. Leicester B took the holders North A to penalties and Harrow & Brent C made Southend-on-Sea work hard to progress to the quarter finals.
With South A, South B and South C all into the quarter finals, the cup looked like it was heading southward. However, they were drawn against each other, and the strength of South C overcame South A and then South B to allow South C to reach their first ever final. Southend-on-Sea’s momentum started to pick up as goals from Hemanshu and Himansu led them pass North A and Harrow & Brent A to reach their second successive final.
South C had already beaten Southend-on-Sea in the group stages 2-0, but they were faced with a different Southend-on-Sea team in the final. South took the lead in the first half through star player Rushit, but Hemanshu soon levelled the score and then gave his team a lead in the second half. Southend-on-Sea had their spirits up and were growing in confidence, but having created numerous chances and failing to take them, were punished with a late equaliser. In extra time, Hemanshu again had the chance to seal the game with a penalty, but he was denied by the woodwork.
The game went to penalties, and the inexperience of South C proved costly as Southend-on-Sea made no mistake to mark their name on the prestigious trophy.
The prize-giving ceremony concluded a wonderful day of camaraderie and sporting spirit for all who participated.
Player of the Tournament: Rushit Patel (South C)
Golden Boot: Hemanshu Patel (Southend-on-Sea)