THE final whistle has blown on Tiger Street Football 2019, with team Hyper Rich from the Klang Valley region lifting the trophy and taking home the grand prize of RM10, 000, presented by football legend and Tiger Street Football ambassador Rio Ferdinand.
The grand finals, which took place at the Tiger Street Football Festival at TREC Kuala Lumpur last weekend, saw the best eight teams from across Peninsular Malaysia meet to battle it out for the title after a series of national qualifiers held last month.
Tiger Street Football celebrates those who have “uncaged” their footie skills on the streets, where many of the world’s best footballers, including Rio Ferdinand himself, started out honing their craft.
“Growing up, the streets of Peckham in South London were the only place where I could kick the ball and work on making my dream become a reality, ” said Ferdinand.
“The streets were my stage, the place where I uncaged my inner tiger.
“Through Tiger Street Football, I want to share my experience with ambitious football talents in Malaysia and, together with Tiger Beer, give them a stage to show the world what they’ve got.“
In addition to receiving their prize and trophy from Ferdinand, the winning team also had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing against the legend in an exhibition match.
Ferdinand’s team comprised winners of the #HEYRIO contest, which saw Tiger Beer fans uploading their best football tricks on Instagram.
“Tiger Street Football has been an amazing journey, taking our skills from the streets and uncaging them in front of thousands of fans was incredible, “ said Hyper Rich captain Naavin Krishnan.
“Being crowned champions by Rio Ferdinand and getting to actually play football with him is something we never dreamed of when playing with our friends.
“Thank you, Tiger Beer, for this fantastic opportunity!”
Hyper Rich was formed in 2000, with the current batch of players being the third generation playing for the club.
The team is named after the company of player turned manager Perabagaran Raju.
According to Naavin, the squad members put in plenty of hard work to realise their dream of becoming champions.
“We trained twice a week at Sports Planet Subang, with some of our team players coming from Puchong, Klang, Sunway and Petaling Jaya.
“We are mainly futsal players. But for this tournament we exten-ded our training hours, created linings and used a smaller goalpost to match the competition criteria.
“We have been taking part competitively in tournaments almost every weekend around the country and now hope to see more street football competitions being organised nationwide, ” said Naavin, adding that the prize money would be divided equally among the team members.
In addition to the grand finals, Tiger Street Football 2019 featured a range of activities for the thousands of football fans who turned up to support the teams.
Aside from the chance to meet Ferdinand in person, there were plenty of games and challenges to test their football skills and earn them exclusive merchandise signed by Ferdinand and other football legends.
Live music by bands Ryot Jones, Kaya and K-Town Clan kept the crowd on the ball throughout the evening, while football jugglers and the Tiger Street Football cheerleading squad added glamour to the drama of the matches.
And being a Tiger event, there was also a great selection of delectable street food for the crowd to enjoy with their ice-cold Tiger beers.
“Tiger Beer has always been a huge supporter of football and football fans in Malaysia, and Tiger Street Football is a big part of that, ” said Tiger Beer Malaysia marketing manager Pearly Lim.
“Tying in with our overall ‘Uncage’ platform, which inspires Malaysians to follow their passions through Tiger Street
Football, we have given hundreds of players the opportunity to take what they do on the streets and showcase their skills on a much bigger stage.”
The national qualifiers for Tiger Street Football 2019 were held in the Klang Valley, Penang, and Johor Baru, where 48 teams were whittled down to the top eight to compete at the grand finals.
The high-intensity game was based on futsal rules with a street-themed twist. The qualifying matches put each team through their places in a “double-elimination” tournament format.
The top two performing teams from each region qualified for the grand finals, and were joined by two “wildcard” teams – those which didn’t clinch first or second place but had the best overall goal difference across all qualifiers.
To see more highlights from the Tiger Street Football Festival, visit www.tigerbeer.my or www.facebook.com/tigerbeermy