Dunedin’s junior football players have shown their worth at an international tournament.
Maori Hill JFC’s 11th grade team and Dunedin Tech JFC’s 10th grade team won their grades in the Christchurch International Cup last month.
Maori Hill team coach Murray Devereux said it was third time lucky for his side, which had finished fifth and fourth in the tournament in previous years.
The team won its three pool play games against Ferrymead Bays, St Albans Shirley FC and Nelson Suburbs, before moving into the quarter finals where it beat Cashmere Technical 3-2.
Its semifinal game against Waterside Karori was 1-1 at full time, so the teams went to a penalty shootout, which Maori Hill won.
It then played Nomads United in the final.
Devereux said the game was nerve-racking to watch, and his side was trailing by one goal for most of the game.
The team fought back to level the score by the final whistle, and the game was decided on another penalty shootout.
“It was a pretty even game really.
“I was pretty nervous but when it went to penalties I felt a little bit more comfortable because I had quite a lot of faith in my goal keeper and our penalty-takers.”
Maori Hill landed all three of their attempts, and the Nomads players missed theirs.
Devereux said he was proud of his team, and they were a “good bunch of lads to coach”.
Zach Cashmore and goal-keeper William Laws played particularly well, he said.
“The boys were very happy.”
Dunedin Tech co-coach Michael Abbott said his team was “ecstatic” to win the under-10 grade.
In pool play, it won its first two games against Christchurch United White and Central Auckland, and drew with Cashmere Technical.
“That made us top of our group and put us into the top eight.”
Its quarterfinal game against FC Nelson was drawn at the end of regulation time, so the teams went to a penalty shootout, which Dunedin Tech won.
The team then played Christchurch United Blue in the semifinal.
“They were favourites to win the whole competition. They won it last year.”
That game ended in a draw and the teams went to a penalty shootout.
Dunedin Tech won 3-2 to secure a place in the final against a Waterside Karori side.
That game was also drawn at full time, so Dunedin Tech lined up for its third penalty shootout.
“Pens are a bit of a lottery sometimes.
“Ryder [Guthrie], our goal keeper, he took our last one to win it.
“He walks out of goal and then steps up and takes a pen.
“All the kids just all went and jumped on him.”
Ryder was named the most valuable player in the grade, Abbott said.
“He helped us a lot in the penalty shootouts but it’s all about the team.
“The whole team did well.”
The team was well-supported by parents who had made the trip.
“I think they were the loudest supporters in the whole place.”
The team competed in the tournament last year, and most members had been playing together for a couple of years, Abbott said.
“They are just a neat bunch of kids who are just keen to learn.”