Celebration of cultures returns to Phoenix Park

by Gazette Reporter

Phoenix Park once again welcomed the cream of the nation’s soccer talent from all walks of life and communities at the Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) Soccerfest 2013 last weekend, the 17th annual running of the intercultural festival of football.

Forty men’s teams, eight women’s teams and eight Under-13 teams battled it out in what has become over the years the largest intercultural seven-a-side tournament in Europe.

The winners of the Tesco mobile SARI Cup were Galway All Stars who beat Gunner Boys – a team with Kenyan roots – 1-0 in extra-time and Galway All Star’s goalkeeper, Julian Yaho, was awarded Player of the Tournament.

Winner’s of the TESCO mobile SARI Plate were Chinese Reds who beat Phoenix 1-0 in the final.

The women’s tournament was won by St Catherine’s for the second year running, defeating Shelbourne in a penalty shoot-out with Ealish Murray and Amy Kelly scoring the all important spot kicks.

The James Gill Under-13 Fair Play Cup, named in memory of James Gill, a dedicated volunteer with Sport Against Racism Ireland at their annual Soccerfest who passed away earlier this year, saw the holders Lifford FC from Ennis, Co Clare take on Dublin side Pavee Point for top honours.

In what many considered to be the match of the tournament, Pavee Point won 2-1 with their goalkeeper Daniel Kavanagh saving a penalty in the last minute of injury time. Former Republic of Ireland and Arsenal defender John Devine, alongside James’s parents Declan and Geraldine, presented the cup and medals.

In the All Stars match, Second Captain’s Eoin McDevitt went head to head in a battle of soccer tactics with Ireland’s Under-21 international manager Noel King.

Speaking after the event, chairman Perry Ogden said: “This year was played out in the spirit of fair play as never before. When you have 56 teams together, it can’t help but be competitive, and this year it was great to see the games played in that spirit

“For me, the highlight was the Under-13 final, in terms of the quality of football, the ups-and-downs, and the last minute penalty save, it really had everything.

“We had more new teams this year coming from all over the country, teams from Galway, Clare, Carlow and Monaghan, and we also had direct provision centres represented, supported by the Office for Promotion of Migrant Integration.”

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