A five-a-side team from Kirklees showcased their skills to the rest of the country last week as they won a nationwide competition held at England’s training base.
Palestine All-Stars, made up mostly of students from Dewsbury and Batley, qualified for the StreetGames Football Pools Fives national championship after success in their regional contest.
Competing at St George’s Park, in Burton-upon-Trent, the local team came up against squads from up and down the country, kicking off the competition against the Scottish representatives – Summerston.
Despite a humbling defeat, the All-Stars bounced back to qualify from their group and advance into the knockout stages and eventually made it all the way to the final.
As fate would have it, the North-East representatives were once again drawn up against Summerston and with the national title just one win away, a close encounter was always expected.
Eventually winning 2-1 in the final, the All-Stars, claimed the prestigious trophy ahead of the 11 other regional teams who had qualified for the finals.
Team representative, Adam Zaman, from Dewsbury, said he was delighted to lift the trophy following an ‘amazing experience’.
“We had initially qualified for the tournament after winning the North-East regional competition and so were invited to the national championships last month,” he said.
“The experience there was one I’m sure none of us will ever forget.
“As well as having the chance to play against some of the country’s top five-a-side teams at St George’s Park, we also met former England manager, Graham Taylor, and Under-21 manager, Gareth Southgate, which was fantastic.”
Going into the final, Zaman added that the whole team wanted to bounce back with a win, following an opening game defeat, and did just that to lift the trophy.
“We knew what we were up against when playing the Scottish team in the final,” he continued.
“They had beaten us in the first game which made us even more motivated to show what we can do, so when we won, it was just crazy.”
Gareth Southgate, national ambassador for the StreetGames Football Pools Fives, praised the standard of football on show throughout the tournament.
Before the final he said: “If the standard of the football so far is anything to go by then this should be an absolutely fantastic final – and what better place to hold it than at the amazing facilities at St George’s Park.
“This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of the competitors to show what they can do in the same place where England’s very best train for their international duties.”
Despite their success in the five-a-side game, many members of the All-Stars team are now competing in 11-a-side competitions locally in Kirklees.