PULAPOL Eagles showed their staying power when they emerged yet again as the champions of the Akaal Premier League 2016 held in the Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Kampung Pandan recently.
The league, now in its second year, is organised by the Akaal Sports Academy based in Gurdwara Kampung Pandan and attracted nine teams from various gurdwaras, including a team from Seremban.
The teams that participated this year included defending champions Pulapol Eagles, Seremban Lions, Titiwangsa Panthers, Beruntung Hill Twin Lions, Kampung Pandan Lions, Selayang Sardar, Rawang Akaal Warriors, Iron Power Kings and Klang Rangers.
The finale was the eighth and final match which required teams to play their final two five-a-side games. During the league, each team plays two games per match. There were some well-contested games that drew excitement and support from spectators, who were mostly parents, family members and friends.
The league starts in July and typically concludes in November. Tournament participation is growing gradually with six teams appearing last year and more are expected to join in coming years.
Pulapol, powered by their high scoring trio of Chirenjiv Singh, Akesyh Singh and Risphal Singh who contributed 62 of the team’s 71 goals in the league, were clearly the driving force in their quest to retain the title.
Striker Akesyh was a thorn to many defences, scoring 37 goals to emerge the league’s top scorer and winner of the Golden Boot award. But the team’s forte was teamwork with good passing and shooting skills.
The team thrashed Beruntung Hill Twin Lions 4-1 in their first match but lost their unbeaten record in the final game of the day to arch-rivals Klang Rangers.
That game saw a see-saw struggle for domination between two sides who looked evenly matched. Klang Rangers moved to a 3-1 lead but the doughty Pulapol players were undaunted firing two goals to draw level. In the end, Klang Rangers slotted home the winner to emerge victorious 4-3.
Of the 16 matches played, Pulapol produced a strong record winning 13 games with two draws and one loss. En route to becoming champions at 41 points, they scored 71 goals while conceding only 16.
Klang Rangers finished runner-up winning 12 games with two draws and two defeats. They finished with 38 points, scoring 62 goals and conceding 21.
In third place was Iron Power Kings who won nine games, drew three and lost four — chalking up 30 points, scoring 48 goals against 25.
The other teams were Rawang Akaal Warriors (4th – 28pts), Selayang Sardar (5th – 21pts), Kg Pandan Lions (6th – 18pts), Beruntung Hill Twin Lions (7th – 16pts), Titiwangsa Panthers (8th – 8pts) and Seremban Lions (9th – 6pts).
Balraj Singh of Titiwangsa Panthers was voted the best goalkeeper and won the Golden Glove award.
Sumeeta Dev Kaur was the only female participant in the finale, representing Klang Rangers.
“I joined the team earlier this year and have been playing football since I was eight. I was nervous initially but I get a lot of support from my parents and teammates,” said the 13-year-old SMK Bukit Sentosa student.
“The Akaal Sports Academy was started on Oct 10, 2010 with the aim of developing grassroots talent. To date we organise sports such as football, hockey, netball, swimming, badminton and athletics for the children coming to the Gurdwara,” said Akaal Sports Academy (ASA) chairman Naginer Singh.
“The idea of having a futsal court within a Gurdwara was to allow sports, Sikhism and a healthy way of life to be promoted in one place,” explained ASA secretary Jasvinder Singh.
The Academy will be holding a post-mortem shortly and will discuss a proposal to expand the league next year into two age categories – Under-13 for younger players and Under-16 to cater to the 14-16 age bracket.
Last year’s league had to be held in the Kelab Aman grounds but this year, with the surface of the court completed, the Academy had the opportunity to host the final stages without having to rent outside courts.
“We are giving ourselves five years to gradually build the league up. As you know, all our activities are on a volunteer basis and it is self-sponsored so we must plan our activities carefully,” Jasvinder added.
The Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Kampung Pandan is the only Gurdwara in the country with a futsal court within the premises and it looks poised to continue to promote sports on an active basis.
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