IF only the passion and commitment of veteran soccer players is shown by the current soccer players, Malaysian soccer would be higher ranked in the world.
Veteran soccer tournaments are fast on the rise in the country and the number of veteran players and teams around the country is amazing.
Most of these tournaments cater for players who are above 40 years old, but some tournaments allow two or three players who are 35-years and above to add some pace to the game.
Penang Sports Club organised their 11th edition of the PSC- Carlsberg International Soccer 7's over the weekend and what a hit it was.
There were 40 teams competing`and foreign teams participating, which included teams from Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
The tournament was for two categories - the Veterans ( 40 and above and three players 36 and above) and Masters (45 and above).
The tournament not only saw some great soccer being played with many teams defying their age setting a pace which youngsters might be put to shame, but it was also a congregation of some great ex-internationals from Malaysia and Singapore.
While some ex-internationals played, others came as managers or coaches, while some just came to lend support to the tournament and catch up with old friends and teammates.
Organising chairman, Dr S. Shanker and his team did an excellent job managing the tournament without any hitches and creating a carnival atmosphere with the many tents for the teams to rest, food stalls and even a massage corner!
With former Penang FA secretary, Datuk Mohd Junid Mohd Noor as the tournament director, former national and Penang player, C. Nadarajan as the technical director and S. Pathumanathan, a pioneer member of the organising committee since 2000 as the advisor, Dr Shanker could not have asked for more able hands to assist him to make the tournament a success.
The tournament played in the vast PSC grounds, saw three fields (not full sized pitches) being used and each match started to the second of the time on the fixtures.
Despite the blazing heat and born dry and hard pitches - no thanks to the hot weather - every one had fun and played some brilliant soccer.
Among the familiar faces on the two days were Santokh Singh, Isa Bakar, V. Kalimuthu, Chan Sze Onn, A. Rukumaran, S. Muraliraj, Jelani Wilastra, Scott Ollerenshaw, Bobby Chua, Abbas Saad, R. Suriamurthi, V. Sundramoorthy, A. Ellangovan, V. Suresh, A. Jayakanthan and Chan Kok Heng to name a few.
After two days of battling it out, it was Singapore's Jurong Western with the likes of Abbas and Sundram who defeated Indonesia's Kwarta Football Club 4-0 in the Veterans final.
Abbas (below) score two goals to show that he may have lost his hair, but not his soccer touches!
of Singapore's ex-internationals R. Suriamurthi, Jelani Wilastra and Malaysia's ex-double international(soccer and hockey), V. Kalimuthu, who is 63 years-old, defeated Hong Kong All Stars 2-1, to lift the Challenge Trophy.
They took home RM1,000 and the trophy.
All pictures by: GS Narinder SinghRESULTS:
Veterans Plate Semi-finals: Melodi Jaya Football Club 1 Port Rangers Football Club 0;
Brunei Veterans 3 Old Stars Brunei Wanderes 1
Final: Brunei Veterans 1 Melodi Jaya Football Club 0
Veterans S-finals: Jurong Western 1 Bukit Jambul Club 1 (Jurong won on penalty kick 2-1; Kwarta Football Club Indonesia 3 Royal Selangor Club 0
Final: Jurong Western 4 Kwarta Football Club Indonesia 0
Masters Plate S-finals: Singapore Cosmos 0 Bukit Jambul Club 0 (Singapore Cosmos won 3-2 on penalties);
Penang Sports Club 1 Royal Selangor Club 0
Final: Singapore Cosmos 2 Penang Sports Club 1
Masters S-final: Melodi Jaya Football Club 1 Perak Veterans 0; Hong Kong
All Stars 1 Brunei Masters 1 (Hong Kong won 3-1 on penalties)
Final: Melodi Jaya Football Club 2 Hong Kong All Stars 1