Fun is the name of the game
Inaugural H-TWO-O Ultimate Junior Football Fiesta allows kids to enjoy football without the pressure of winning
They crowded around the ball and many barely knew the rules.
But the participants of the inaugural H-TWO-O Ultimate Junior Football Fiesta were still all smiles as they left the pitch at ITE College Central yesterday.
The event, jointly organised by YEO'S, the Football Association of Singapore and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), saw 1,100 boys and girls compete across three age groups (Under-8, U-10 and U-12).
A total of 60 teams - given names like France, Spain and England in conjunction with the upcoming Euro 2016 - played five seven-a-side games of 10 minutes each.
May Ngiam, first vice-president of Yeo Hiap Seng (Singapore), said the event aims to allow children as young as five years old to enjoy football without the pressure of winning.
"For them, it's really about experiencing football as a sport," she told The New Paper on the sidelines of the event.
"It's also about getting the community to bond together.
"When you have the parents and grandparents supporting, it's great to see their enthusiasm to cheer on the kids."
There were no champions in the competition, with teams awarded different certificates (gold, silver or bronze) based on their results instead.
Volunteer coach John Michael Morris, who took charge of two U-8 teams at the event, welcomed the competition format.
"What's great about a day like this is that it's not about winning. For a lot of these boys, it's the first exposure into organised football besides training," he said.
"A tournament with referees and everything can only aid in their development, giving them a bit of experience and exposure."
S.League chief executive officer Lim Chin called the event a "great success" due to the impressive turn-out on its debut.
"The response is very positive. The parents felt that it was a good thing to bring children together and enjoy football," he said.
Lee Gwun Wai could be seen on the sidelines, cheering on his eight-year-old son in the Ireland team.
"I brought him here to have fun, get some exercise and learn how to work with a team," said the 44-year-old IT professional.
"There should be more of this kind of competitions where they just go out and have fun - it's not so boring as compared to training."
The event continues this Saturday, with 32 teams expected to compete at Guangyang Secondary School and Bedok South Secondary School.
This tournament targets primary school students aged 12 years old and below.
Ngiam did not rule out making the event a yearly affair.
She said: "If we can make it happen, we should. Because it's very adorable to see the young kids play and have that interest level as well."