The Enfield squad beat Oxford in the final as over 3000 of the UK’s top 6 a side footballers descended on Birmingham this weekend.
The event took place in the shadow of Villa Park, where 126 years ago the football league formed and has become the centre of a football revolution for the 21st century, as 6 a side has overtaken 11 a side in participation levels with the FA losing funding recently thanks to its lack of attention to grassroots football.
Now in its seventh year, the tournament has grown into the most prestigious tournament of its kind in Europe, attracting players from up and down the country, from Newquay to Newcastle and Glenrothes to Gloucester.
This year, as a special feature, the National 6 a side teams of England, Scotland and Wales met in a Home Nations Championship under the watchful gaze of dignitaries including the Mayor of Solihull, Kate Wild who admitted she was amazed at the scale of the competition, adding: “The atmosphere is so alive. The passion is just great!”
In a similar format to the World Cup currently taking place in Brazil, teams first competed in 64 groups of four, playing each other once, before the top two in each progressed to sudden death knockout rounds, it was here that Enfield really shone and overcame a succession of teams, including pre-tournament favourites, fellow Londoners Northwood in, who included England skipper Ben Long in their ranks, in an eagerly contested derby.
Former Arsenal midfield schemer Paulo Vernazza, who now plays competitive 6 a side and has appeared in European competition for England at the sport, was part of the Hayes team which reached the quarter finals. Former winners, they were surprisingly beaten by an unfancied side from Barnsley in perhaps the biggest shock of the day.
After hundreds of games it all came down to a final between Enfield and a team from Oxford, a tight encounter was settled by a goal midway through the match to spark wild scenes of celebration from the Enfield side, who had competed in three previous competitions without success.
Enfield star Daniel Beszant praised his side, proclaiming that: “It took guts and hard work to get this trophy.” Before joking that the celebrations would have to wait: “We are all shattered, we are going home to sleep!” He smiled.