Samford Rangers U12’s fly the flag for Australia.
Last month, seven boys from Samford Rangers Football Club travelled to Japan as part of a combined squad with a handful of Go Zamurai Soccer Academy players, as the first ever competitors from Australia to participate in the Copa Puma Toreros Primavera Soccer Tournament, 2017.
Copa Puma Toreros Primavera is one of the biggest international junior soccer tournaments in the world and has been held in Japan since 2010. This year, our club received an invitation to participate in this tournament alongside elite academies from International Professional Football Clubs such as Atletico Madrid (Spain), Hertha Berlin (Germany) and Palmeiras (Brazil).
Seven of our Samford Rangers juniors were selected to play in a combined squad with Go Zamurai Academy (southside) players for Copa Puma Toreros 2017. While these boys were performing strongly as part of our local U12 Division 3 squad, they found themselves up against the top teams from several countries including Changwong FC (Korea), Hangzhou Green Town FC (China), the Nepal National Team, Singapore and Taiwanese National Academies and a number of the J-League Academies (Japan).
Our boys were therefore not expected to win many, if any, games however they played exceptionally well, even in horrendous conditions on day one of the three day tournament. Playing in a temperature of three degrees, with torrential rain, after a hot, dry Brisbane summer, required a good lashing of ANZAC Spirit.
The team remained very competitive, winning five of the twelve matches played across the tournament and pre-tournament. The highlight for our boys was a win on the final day of the competition against Nepal. Two-all at full time, ending in an exciting penalty shoot-out which went Samfords’ way.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the boys who returned home with improved skills, lasting memories, and a host of new friendships.
We are very grateful to all officials of Copa Puma Toreros Primavera who provided this experience to our team, and would very much like to thank the dedication and support of the boys Coach, Rinichi Mikami and Samford Rangers Club Administrator Extraordinaire, Jo Tsang.
We would also like to thank our generous sponsors, Australian Money Market, Madison Financial and Zurich who made generous cash donations toward the trip; to Gorilla Sports for their wonderful support in providing a substantial travelling and playing kit for each of the team members; and of course the support of the local community in helping raise funds to subsidise the cost of the trip for our boys.
It has certainly been an experience that the boys will never forget. And their performance, on and off the pitch, has secured this opportunity for future U12 Samford Rangers players.