ROTW claimed the NAKFA Cup for an unrivalled eighth time after beating arch rivals Eastern in the final of the annual football seven-a-side tournament last Wednesday night.
Eastern scored first following some ping pong play in front of the ROTW goal and generally dominated proceedings but were denied from extending their lead thanks to some to-thedeath defending and outstanding keeping by Lucas Samora, a new Brazilian player who had flown in to the country days earlier.
Adherence to tenacious defence in the face of the onslaught allowed ROTW to launch a number of counter attacks which, for the most part, were mostly ineffective before
some individual brilliance from Abdul Janif levelled the scores.
The 1-1 stalemate forced the game into the dreaded penalty shootout stage. This was won after only three penalties from each team had been taken with Eastern players either unable to keep their shots below regulation height or were denied by Samora.
Elsewhere, Black Rarawa celebrated a successful campaign by winning the NAKFA Plate over Kaitaia Women to add to the social division title won the previous week.
Only 12 teams took to the fields for the opening round of the annual knockout aspect of the annual Northland Age Kaitaia Football Association tournament (traditionally comprising seven weeks of league competition and two weeks set aside for the KO round to be completed) although this became a blessing in disguise as it allowed for cup games to be completed over one night.
In some ways this was reflective of the general apathy in this year’s NAKFA although feedback remained positive, every game played was played in good spirit, and the cries of delight and hoots of laughter echoing from both children and adults were the real highlights for organisers.
Also commendable was the strong representation of three teams from Rarawa FC, and the Milne family, with dad Doug playing alongside children Hunter and Ezra in the UP&GO’s social div side, while sons Bailey, JT and Kian featured for Transformers in the premiership.
Organisers thanked everyone involved this year along with the Kaitaia College and staff for the allowing use of the top fields.
Rest of the World, the 2018 NAKFA champions. From back left, Lucas Samora, Ryan Beard, Blair Dowman, Jake Burton, Bailey Milne, Abdul Janif, Vander Dos Santos, mascot Gabriel Dos Santos and Wayne Van Kan; absent are JJ and Patric Kooss.