RAF Women’s five-a-side tournament – RAF Brize Norton – 22 Sep 21
RAF Brize Norton played host to the RAF Ladies five-a-side tournament on 22 Sep, an event that has been hotly anticipated given its recent absence.
A fantastic turnout of ten teams from different stations meant that the best part of one hundred players gathered to battle it out for the trophy, with a mix of experienced LRT players and complete beginners. A special mention must go to RAF Cosford, whose Ladies’ station team was only formed a few weeks ago. The enthusiasm and competitiveness of all though, ensured a great atmosphere and after a foggy start to the day the tournament kicked off.
As the fog broke into glorious sunshine, several teams looked to stamp their authority early on.
Army unit North Luffenham’s ‘A’ team and RAF Coningsby both had good group stages, however it was the Logs Movements Lionesses representing RAF Brize Norton and a combined team from RAF High Wycombe and Halton who looked strong favourites after both going unbeaten in the first phase of the tournament.
As the group stages came to a close, the tournament split into plate and trophy competitions with the top three from each group going through to the trophy and the bottom two going into the plate.
Amazingly in group two, RAF Wyton and North Luffenham ‘B’ both finished tied for third with the same points, goal difference and goals scored. A decider match saw North Luffenham come out on top and progress into the trophy.
With the tournament moving into knockout games the intensity increased and games became even tighter. The Lionesses booked their place in the trophy final with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the impressive Coningsby and RAF Waddington required a penalty shootout win to overcome RAF High Wycombe & Halton.
Over in the plate competition, North Luffenham ‘A’ put on a strong performance to beat RAF Cosford 2-0, whilst RAF Wyton beat RAF Leeming 2-1 to ensure a RAF vs Army final.
In keeping with the spirit of the day, many of the teams who had been knocked out of the tournament stayed to watch the two finals, making for a fantastic atmosphere.
First up was the plate final. RAF Wyton took an early lead through a spectacular solo goal, but were pegged back almost immediately by North Luffenham ‘A’. The Army side continued to pile on the pressure but could not find a way past the Wyton goalkeeper.
Wyton had a good chance of their own towards the end of the match but failed to convert meaning the plate would be decided on penalties. It was North Luffenham ‘A’ who manged to keep their composure and ran out deserved winners of the plate competition.
It was then time for the trophy final where the impressive Lionesses would have to be seen as favourites having gone unbeaten throughout the whole tournament. They found themselves with an excellent opportunity to take an early lead as they were awarded a spot kick after a penalty area infringement. It was coolly despatched, and the Lionesses looked on course to lift the trophy.
A few minutes later and it was a case of déjà vu as they were awarded another penalty in almost exactly the same circumstances. Penalty converted and the Lionesses were firmly in control. Waddington managed to regroup and started to control large parts of possession but couldn’t carve out any real opportunities. As the final whistle blew the Lionesses ran out 2-0 winners and worthy champions.
With the huge success of the day, it is hoped that even more teams will enter next year, with the great feedback and atmosphere showing that it doesn’t matter what level of player you are. Special thanks must go to WO Si Waldock and Sgt Chris Drabwell for their hard work in organising and running the tournament as without them the day could not have been possible.