THE Selangor Grassroots League (SGL) may be a competition for players under-12, but the action and commitment from the budding stars in the final were admirable.
Both teams – AAB-MBSA (A) and Putra Kids FC (PKFC) – were well-matched and played excellent football during the first-half, with PKFC coach Rosmaini Mohd Zubir’s side doing exceptionally well to fend of the more offensive play of former national attacking-midfielder Anuar Abu Bakar’s charges.
Both sides were locked at 0-0 during halftime but lady luck shone on AAB-MBSA (A) when the opposing team were penalised for a handball in the penalty box to gift AAB-MBSA (A) a spot kick which they converted with just a few minutes left on the clock.
Anuar’s charges were exhausted but ecstatic after winning their three matches under the scorching sun starting from the quarterfinal match, thrashing Young Guns 8-1 and Kuala Langat Jr 2-1 in the semis and then winning narrowly in the final.
“The boys started off well but because of the weather and dehydration, began feeling tired quickly,” he said.
“We entered this tournament with our eyes on being champion and we were very lucky to get the penalty against PKFC in the final,” Anuar added.
AAB-MBSA (A) were also unbeaten against nine other teams in the SGL, which was held from March to May this year.
Rosmaini, who was content with second place finish, said the team from Bandar Tasik Selatan consisting of mostly school players, did well to reach the final.
“It was a tough match, I think both sides found it difficult to breach each other’s defence and we were expecting it to go all the way to penalties, but it was unfortunate that we gave away a penalty during the final minutes of the match.
“As underdogs, I am very proud of them because we were able to meet our target of second in the league table and we did not expect to reach the final,” added Rosmaini, a PE teacher with SK Bandar Tasik Selatan.
Kuala Langat and AAB MBSA (B) finished joint second runner-ups while PKFC’s Mustaqim Hajeekien Mohd Haikal earned the votes for the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The SGL and knockout tournament is a Selangor Youth Community (SAY) grassroots football development initiative, aimed at giving younger players a competitive platform to improve the quality of their game.
It is the brainchild of SAY founder and its royal patron, the Raja Muda of Selangor Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.
According to tournament director Dr Johan Kamal Hamidon, the inaugural edition this year was created to grow and identify more talents at the grassroots level and has received positive response from coaches as well as parents.
As a mark of encouragement and commitment to bolster football development, Tengku Amir, along with national striker Safee Sali, were present to witness the final match and encourage the players during the final.
Tengku Amir also presented the trophy, medals and cash prizes amounting to RM6,350 to the winners.
A total of 18 teams featured in the two-zone league before the start of the knockout tournament phase, which was held at the Selangor SUK Sports Complex.
“Apart from instilling a healthy lifestyle among the young in the state, the league gives them great exposure and one can see the excitement in the players involved,” said Dr Johan.
He added that the next edition of the SGL may see an even stronger emphasis on the grassroots and include younger players.