This Saturday saw Iffley Road Sports Centre play host to OUWAFC’s inaugural 5-a-side tournament, which proved to be a great success with players of all abilities turning out to flex their footballing muscles ahead of Cuppers quarter finals, blow off some post-collections steam and generally ease themselves back into the game after the Christmas vacation.
The tournament, which took place between 5.30 and 7pm on Iffley’s floodlit astro pitches, was open to both college and university players.
With the option of individual entries and impromptu teams forming on the night, there was really no excuse not to get involved and a total of seven teams with a maximum of eight players took part. Participants included Merton-Mansfield, St Anne’s and Jesus college and a team made up of Blues and Furies players.
Although the abilities of the teams varied greatly, the format of the tournament helped to even out the field. Each game was just five minutes long, with rush goalkeeping, meaning that capitalising on every scoring opportunity was crucial and keeping your wits about you advisable. The result was intense fast-paced play with all the fluidity and movement you would expect from 5-a-side but with an added element of urgency.
The teams were divided into two groups and the top two teams of each group progressed to the semifinals. With both semifinals ending goalless after five minutes they descended into a tense sudden death situation where the first goal was to win.
Teams from OUWAFC and Mansfield Road, a local ladies team who also play in the first division of the women’s college league, emerged victorious and went head to head in the final where a goal from OUWAFC’s Vanessa Butz claimed victory for the University team.
Overall, the tournament was highly enjoyable for everyone involved thanks to its casual and accommodating ethos and the enthusiasm of all its participants, regardless of ability. Credit goes to OUWAFC President, Julia Skisaker, and Blues captain, Kim Kilmartin, for organising and running the event. Kilmartin later commented on the promising turnout:
“It was really good to get so many girls out playing. Hopefully we can continue to increase participation through events like this.”
The hope is that by holding similar events in the future they can encourage college players to try out for the Blues and Furies teams and generally raise the profile of women’s football within the University in the longer term.