Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) hosted the Football National Championship final on the 7th of January at Reliance Corporate Park, Ghansoli, amidst a lot of fervor. The National Championship is an event that occurs once a year and it pits the best of the best teams against each other, across four categories. The proceedings began in the morning and across the whole day, four new teams were crowned the RFYS 2018-19 Football Champions.
The first final was in the Junior Boys category and was held between Maharana Pratap Sports College, Dehradun and St. Anthony’s Higher Secondary School, Shillong. Being champions of their respective cities, the teams started well and held equal possession for the first five minutes. St. Anthony’s HSS got the breakthrough in the 9th minute through Nevielle Majaw’s strike that left Maharana Pratap chasing them throughout the first half. A couple of half-chances could never be converted by both the teams in the second half as St. Anthony’s resilient defence nullified attack after attack and saw through the game without conceding. St. Anthony’s HSS, who had a miraculous passage to the final itself, got crowned as the new Junior Boys champions of RFYS.
Malabar Special Police HSS squared off against Shillong College for the coveted RFYS Senior Boys trophy in the second final of the day. As the referee blew the kick-off whistle, Shillong College started to stitch small passes together and looked for a gap in Malabar’s defence whereas Malabar stood deep and waited to win the ball, trying to surprise their opponents on the counter. As the game progressed, both the teams couldn’t register much shots on target as both the teams were found struggling for the duration of the 90 minutes. A penalty shootout was needed to decide who will lift the trophy and Freddy Warbah saved two crucial penalties as well as scored the winning one with the team from Shillong winning the encounter 5-4 in the end. Shillong College proudly went into the presentation ceremony, donning a smile on their face knowing that they almost bottled up the Championship if it wasn’t for their goalkeeper’s heroics.
Next up, it was time for the School Girls to ply their trade on the 120-yard field. Nilamani English School, Imphal, started off strong against Faith Higher Secondary School, Ahmedabad in the School Girls final. A defensive error in the penalty area by Faith saw Nilamani being awarded a penalty in the 12th minute of the game. H Shilky Devi drove it home sweetly, giving her team the all-important lead. Three minutes later, it was deja-vu for Faith as they saw Shilky Devi taking another penalty due to another defensive error. The striker from Imphal missed this time and Faith were relieved to see that the goal deficit was still within touching distance. They ended the first half a goal down as Nilamani looked dominant throughout the first 30 minutes. Nilamani English School got the better of Faith’s defence in the second half as a brace each from H Shilky Devi and Serto Linda Kom completed a 4-0 drubbing and saw them being crowned as the RFYS School Girls Champions of 2018-19.
The best clash was saved for the last, as Nirmala College and Thakur College collided for the second time in the National Championship. Having secured their berths in the semi-finals already, Nirmala College were 3-1 victorious in their group stage encounter against Thakur. They started off positively, made runs into Thakur’s box and kept the defenders alert. Their efforts paid dividends late in the first half when Sachin Sivan struck with a thunderous shot. Nirmala went into the break with a 1-0 lead and momentum by their side. In the second half, Thakur College started off with an aim to equalize as early as possible as their players were seen with renewed enthusiasm. In the 58th minute, they drew level through Alok Chauhan’s strike, who also got his fourth goal of the tournament. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and the players huddled up to prepare their strategy for the penalty shootout. In the shootout, Nirmala College put no foot wrong and found the back of the net five times, whereas Thakur College were left disappointed as they missed the opportunity to exact revenge on Nirmala. Nirmala College lifted the RFYS trophy by beating Thakur College for a straight second time, winning the penalty shootout 5-3 in the end.
Thus, another year of RFYS Football got concluded in Mumbai. Some of the dignitaries present at the venue was Former Indian Captain, Renedy Singh. RFYS reached new heights this year as the National Championship final was broadcasted on Star Sports as well as on the Jio TV app. These were all the Champions that made themselves proud today and lifted the RFYS trophy.
Junior Boys – St. Anthony’s HSS, Shillong
Senior Boys – Shillong College HSS, Shillong
School Girls – Nilamani English School, Imphal
College Boys – Nirmala College, Kochi