Youngsters relish footballing feast

The Marlborough Maroons 12 grade boys’ side. Photo: Peter Jones.

Hundreds of young footballers made Blenheim’s A and P Park their own at the weekend when the annual Gavin Roberts 12th grade boys South Island football tournament was staged.

The ever-popular event ran from Friday until Sunday, attracting 20 teams and scores of supporters who cheered vigorously from the sidelines as their favourites battled opposition from throughout the Mainland. Teams were based in colourful tents, bringing a festive, fun atmosphere to proceedings at the park.

One Marlborough team was in action. The Marlborough Maroons side, coached by Zeb Foote and Blair Speedy, gave a good account of themselves. During the preliminary rounds, they were unfortunate to be on the wrong side of three very-tight scorelines, relegating them to the bottom of their pool.

They lost 3-2 to Christchurch United, Halswell and FC Nelson, while also going down 5-2 to Ferrymead Bays.

In post-section play they quickly made up for their slow start, producing some well-structured attacking football. They downed South Canterbury Green 9-2, Hereweka Panthers 6-0 then accounting for Parklands 7-1 to claim 17th place in the event.

Marlborough’s Tyson Foote claimed the much-coveted Golden Boot award, scoring 11 goals during the three-day tournament and being voted his side’s MVP. Central Otago keeper Oskar Schiele took out the tournament Golden Glove award.

The overall winner was Central Otago, who defeated Nomads United 3-2, while FC Nelson beat St Albans 5-1 to clinch the third spot. Coastal Spirit won the Fair Play award.

The Gavin Roberts tournament, which originated in 1972, followed on from the 12th-grade girls’ tournament and the 12th-grade boys’ tier two event, both staged at A and P Park from September 29-October 1.

Thirty-eight teams were in town for the three tournaments, bringing an estimated 1400 visitors to the region.

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