THE fifth UKRC-Astro Inter-national Soccer 9s, to be held at the Ulu Klang Recreation Club (UKRC) ground this weekend, has received a boost from main sponsor Astro.
Organising chairman Andrew Gopal said: “We are grateful that Astro has come forward to help make the international veteran tournament a success this year. The event is going to be a big affair.”
The organiser is expecting about 1,000 people from Ampang Jaya to turn up for this fun-filled two-day tournament.
“We have adopted a carnival concept and Astro has lined up sports related telematches for the crowd,” Andrew added.
Three international teams - debutants Blues Guard FC (Philippines), Gardens Football Club (Singapore) and Veterans Football Club (Singapore) - will feature in this tournament.
“Next year, we are expecting teams from Brunei and Hong Kong to take part in this event,” said Andrew.
Local sides taking part in the tournament for the first time include MK Land FC (Kuala Lumpur) and Asterix Leftovers FC (Kuala Lumpur).
Completing the 12-team cast vying for the challenge trophy are the Penang Sports Club, Kulim Club (Kedah), Chinese Recreation Club Taiping (Perak), Malacca Club, Seremban Veteran FC, Malaysian Grasshoppers and hosts UKRC.
“Gardens Football Club from Singapore, who were the losing finalists last year, have been training hard. They want to lift the title this year.
“On the other hand, Aesterix Leftovers FC (Kuala Lumpur) and the Malaysian Grasshoppers consist of a bunch of good-natured expatriates who want to have fun on the pitch. Hosts UKRC hope to reach the semi-finals for the first time,” Andrew pointed out.
Each team is required to have 13 players with a minimum of 10 players aged 40 years and above and a maximum of three players aged 37 years and above.
The teams will be divided into three groups during the preliminary rounds. The top two teams from each group will advance to the trophy competition where six teams will compete in two groups.
The other six teams will play in the plate competition.
However, defending champions Bharat FC will not be defending their title this season.
The Top Scorer Award, Ong Yu Tiang Memorial Trophy and Fair Play Award will be given away following the competition.
The Ong Yu Tiang Memorial Trophy was initiated in 2003 in memory of former national goalkeeper late Ong Yu Tiang, who passed away after a long battle with acute lymphocytic leukaemia.
Ong’s wife Linda Yap is expected to present the trophy to the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
This year, the prize money has been increased from RM1,000 to RM1,500. The winners will walk away with RM1,000 while the runners-up will receive RM500.
The other sponsors of the event are Coca-Cola Malaysia, Mei Keng Fatt Seafood Restaurant and Line7.