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Saturday 4th July 2015

Khalsa Football Federation Shaheedi Football Tournament

9.00am Division Two First Round – Pitch 5

GURU RAVIDAS 1 (7)

SMETHWICK RAIDERS 2 (62 74)

Att 10

10.45 Division One First Round – Pitch 4

NUNEATON FC 2 (51 54)

GNP SPORTS COVENTRY 5 (6p 13 22 43 90)

Att 11

12.30 Premier Division First Round – Pitch 2

GNG LEICESTER 4 (42 52 57 85)

SINGH BROTHERS DERBY 4 (23 49 64 90p)

No extra time Leicester won 4-3 on penalties

Att 53

14.30 Division Two Second Round – Pitch 1

SIKH HUNTERS RESERVES 2 (3 33)

B.N.J.S. 3 (5 25 49)

Att 18

16.30 Division One Second Round – Pitch 7

SHERE PUNJAB WOLVES 0

SINGH SABHA BARKING 4 (23 51 56 73)

Att 14

At Sinfin Moor Park, Sinfin Lane, Derby

Entry FREE

Programme FREE

Vegetable Curry and Chapatti FREE

The Khalsa Football Federation exists as means of uniting Britain’s Sikh community through football, and its flagship event is a series of two-day football tournaments hosted in areas where there is a significant Sikh community. This was the 3rd of 5 tournaments, the next being in Kingswinford on 18th and 19th July. More information is on the KFF’s website.

The mechanics of the competition are straightforward. There are 3 divisions, based on the ability of the teams, and for each division each team takes place in a first round match, with penalties to settle any draws, with a second game later in the day for the successful teams. Those successful in the second round go through to the semi-finals and final on the Sunday. The results of each tournament are collated with the other four, making this part of a massive round-robin competition.

In addition to the 3 adult male divisions there is a smaller over 35 section, and children’s competitions. The organisation is excellent, the event ran like clockwork, and the only thing missing for me, was a women’s competition.

For the spectator its a simple task; just park up, find the control tent, pick up a programme, work out where the pitches are and assume you are going to do nothing else but watch football for the next 8 hours! In fact if the Premier Division 2nd Round games had kicked off at 6.30 I’d could easily have watched 6 games! It is a good idea to bring a chair and plenty of water, it wouldn’t have been right to have used the crates of water provided by the organisers, that was for the players. And on a hot, humid day my factor 30 didn’t prevent sunburn!

So what’s it like? The straight answer is good, very good. The tournament was organised by two local clubs, Punjab United, and Singh Brothers Derby, the latter’s Sunday side play here at Sinfin Moor, and both had sides in the Premier Division. That gives a fair idea of the quality on show, with the top flight being easily up to Step 7 standard, with Division 1 and 2 being more for the enthusiast player.

I’d never seen 5 games in a day before, the famous Central Midlands League 5-in-a-day in 2004 was a year before I started groundhopping. I have to say my fold-up chair was a godsend, I’d remembered the likes of the North Berkshire Hop where 4 games in a day with little or no seating being tiring, but as the final game wound down I quietly came to a conclusion.

When I walked in at 8.30 I saw the differences from what I was used to, the turbans, and the Asian names, but the longer I lingered the more the similarities stood out. People swear, tackles go in, and jokes are exchanged. And where sport wins out every time is where it accentuates what unites, rather than what divides.