Saturday April 13 was a fantastic Autumn day at the Mawson Park Soccer Fields in Canberra for the inaugural Lightning Shield, which showcased some of the best young soccer players from NSW and ACT.
The Under 12s Boys Shield fielded representative teams from Wagga Wagga, Canberra, Eurobodalla and our boys from the Southern Tablelands.
The STFA rep team is made up of players from all of the different clubs within the Southern Tablelands meaning that they have played very little soccer together.
Our first game was against the Belwest Foxes and the STFA boys came out firing to go up 4-0 at half time and eventually win the game 7-1.
We then had a one hour break before coming up against Wagga Wagga who we also beat,10-0.
Courtesy of a challenging draw we then went straight into another game against one of of our past competitors, Eurobodalla.
Euro had managed to pip us with 20 seconds to go last time we faced off on our home ground three weeks ago to take out the Merino Cup.
The boys started on tired legs and went down 2-0 early but clawed back going into the break 3-2 down. In the second half the heat and challenging draw got the best of us going down 5-2.
Thanks to our strong results in the earlier rounds we qualified for the grand final where we would again play Eurobodalla.
The young STFA team, which also consists of a number of 10-year-old development players did an amazing job to come together as a team and regroup for the final.
The match started at a very frantic pace with both teams playing a fast counterattacking game early on.
The STFA boys came off a nice break, looked committed, and were playing out of their skin. They scored the first and second goal to go into half-time 2-0 up.
The lads were playing for each other and had grown as a family with every minute they had played during the day. The second half started with Eurobodalla getting a penalty in the box that our goalkeeper read well and dived to his right and saved.
We then scored again through a penalty at the other end before Euro hit back with one of their own. Our STFA boys gave it one last big push scoring one more goal to make it 4-2 and putting the result beyond a shadow of a doubt.
When the final whistle blew, it caused great elation and celebration from the entire squad, sideline supporters and coaching staff.
This was truly an amazing result and was a privilege to watch the team bond together and all play for each other to become 2019 Lightning Shield champions.
With a number of representative competitions to come the sky is the limit for what these young players can achieve.