On a bright March afternoon, we extended the hand of hospitality to a fellow local football club, Indian Gymkhana, and to re-ignite the spark of unity and diversity which had so recently caused SJFA and IGK to be shortlisted and recognised in a prestigious set of awards by BEDSA.
This was to be a friendly return fixture, but this time with SJFA finally playing our first match at our home ground, The Hive – which is the same as Barnet FC. After a welcoming talk by the Head of Football, Shafique Govani, we took pictures, observed a one-minute silence to commemorate the late family members of all, especially the sponsors’ families. This was an echo of what we had done at Indian Gymkhana, all those months ago in December.
We finally got started, and all age groups went to their respective pitches, with the U12’s age groups getting ready on pitch 1B.
This was the team chosen to represent SJFA U12 in our latest fixture:
- Ali Hadi Govani (C)
- Ali Abbas Suleiman(GK)
- Ali Khatau
- Ali Sheikh
- Hassan Merali Dewji
- Husayn Yahya Merali
- Jameel Walji
- Muhammad Abbas Jaffer
- Mohamed Mahdi Janmohamed
- Sami Merali
- Shaahid AP
- Zia Dewji
Unfortunately, Muhammad Abbas Jaffer was injured in the pre-match warm up, and was not able to participate. This meant that we played a 3-1-3-1, with Ali Hadi, Ali Sheikh and Shaahid at the back, Husayn Yahya as CDM, and an ever-changing midfield with Jameel, Ali Khatau and Sami swapping in strike.
SJFA started the match with a real buzz, and went straight in to attack. IGK and SJFA exchanged early blows, with real attacking intent. The first real chance came from a brilliant counter-attack from SJ when Ali Khatau attacked the ball and drove forward, closely followed by Hassan and Zia, which created a well-hit shot to be carried away by their keeper. Unfortunately, this is how Indian Gymkhana scored the goal. They had just recovered from a Stanmore Jaffery’s attack, when a long ball was launched over SJ heads into a dangerous area. Soon a cross was whipped in, and converted into a well-deserved goal. 1-0 to Indian Gymkhana
A little later, Ali Abbas Suleiman made a succession of good saves which kept us in the match. The ref blew the half-time whistle.
After a good talking-to by our two coaches, Nazir Dewji and tier head, Fuad Musa, we started to play some good football – this time with a different formation of 3-4-1. One notable squad contribution was one from Sami Merali, who made his SJFA debut shortly before half-time and was bouncing with energy. We played a much more attacking half during the next 10 minutes or so, and with much more creativity, verve and confidence. Very soon it paid off. In another brilliant attacking move, Sami, Hassan, Zia and a few other Stanmore players ran down the pitch where our players outnumbered the ones of Indian Gymkhana, and Sami took it around the keeper to claim a debut goal! 1-1 was the score-line. All the spectators who were watching will agree with me when I say that Liverpool would be proud of a move like that!
The Indian Gymkhana players were playing to win, however, and crafted chance after chance, though our defence stood resolutely. Finally, they manage to put one past us, making the score 2-1 to IGK. Then again, Indian Gymkhana came at us in a blur of yellow shirts, and whipped a cross in. Unfortunately, it bounced of the head of Ali Sheikh, hit the crossbar and rebounded into the path of their tall striker, to be put away for another goal. 3-1 to Indian Gymkhana.
We continued with our attempts to score, and another flurry of chances came our way, with Sami hitting the crossbar, and Ali Hadi narrowly shooting over. In the end, however, it wasn’t to be. Indian Gymkhana added a fourth goal, and soon after, the referee blew the final whistle, ending a spirited performance by the SJFA U12 Squad. This wasn’t to be a winning game for us, but we’ll be ready to challenge top-league teams such as IGK in the near future. We collected our medals, and went to play some more football in our weekly training.
By Husayn Yahya Merali (Player)