By Beth Nyaga
All Stars FC from Mombasa thwarted their closest rivals and defending champions Bayern Never Losen 3-2 in the Under 23 category to claim the top spot in the fourth edition of the just concluded 2016 Astroturf Challenge.
The finals kicked off in high tempo with Bayern maintaining an early lead, but a hat trick by Wyclife Munene from All Stars dropped Bayern to Second position. In the girls’ finals, Under 23 Minions beat GEMS Cambridge 2-1 in a fiery penalty shootout. Freere Town from Mombasa and Y Zone from Kisumu were ousted in the semi-finals.
The winning teams received a grand prize of 200,000, shared among them, and the best 11 players from the under 15 and under 18 categories will be recruited into the Green Sports Academy on full scholarship courtesy of gaming platform mCHEZA.
Speaking on the victory, All Stars team captain Swaleh Balala noted they were happy to carry on the winning streak to represent Mombasa in the finals in Nairobi.
The tournament which began on 26th March in Kisumu, followed by 2nd-3rd April in Mombasa saw the two cities front four teams each.
207 teams turned up during the tournament, with Nairobi fronting 150 teams.
The players not only have a chance to represent their region in the national tournament, but have a slot in the academy which will increase their exposure to join national club teams.
The Under 23 qualifiers will be taken through extensive technical training and conditioning ahead of the Gothia World Youth Cup slated for 18th– 23rd July 2016 in Sweden.
While congratulating the winners, Green Sports Africa Co-founder and tournament organizer George Ouma expressed excitement over the turnout of the tournament and encouraged more regional teams to bring out their best foot forward. He added that the final 11 players will be announced later.
Astroturf is a competitive 5 aside football game played on artificial grass. Matches played on the grounds are shorter and fast- paced. The teams compete in under 15s, Under 18s and under 23s categories.
Green Sports has partnered with mCHEZA to expand to various regions across the country. The partnership is part of the company’s social pillars of nurturing talent.