It was a classic climax to a well sponsored, organized and run youth football tournament – the Smart 13 & Under Mundialito, which kicked off on Saturday, September 29, and finished right on schedule with the championship match 11 weeks later on Sunday, December 9, at the MCC Grounds. There were 10 teams in the tournament, and it was a single round-robin; thus, each team had 9 games in their regular season schedule, all on Saturdays. That was followed by knockout semifinals last week Saturday, and then the one-game 3rd place and championship Finals this past Sunday.
Brown Bombers had accomplished a feat of sorts, not only completing the regular season undefeated, but they did it without conceding a single goal in their 9 games, of which only 1 was won by default. One of those victories, 2-0, was against Hattieville, who ended the regular season in 3rd position, having lost only once, to Brown Bombers.
In the semifinals on Saturday, December 1, the Bombers easily disposed of 4th ranked Third World, 2-0; while Hattieville had to go to penalties before getting the win over 2nd ranked United Rangers.
With the MCC vacant, F.C. Belize having failed to make the Premier League playoffs, the Mundialito organizers shifted their final games to Sunday, along with a couple exhibitions featuring Belize District/Mundialito selections against a YWAM U-12 selection and their Gold Medal U-15 team from Belmopan.
3rd place game
The day began with the 3rd place game between United Rangers and Third World, and it was United Rangers winning in a penalty shootout after they were deadlocked in regulation and overtime.
Next was a U-12 exhibition game between a visiting YWAM U-12 selection from Belmopan and a U-12 selection of players from the Smart Mundialito. The YWAM U-12, under coach, Santi Valencia, was very impressive, winning 2-0, with goals from Tyzae Carr and Buddy Galvez.
Smart Mundialito championship
The 13 & Under Mundialito championship game between the favorite Brown Bombers and the underdog Hattieville was nil-nil at the half; but mid-way through that first period, the Bombers’ star goalkeeper Gregory Fisher was hurt and had to leave the game, having maintained an unblemished record in goal. Unfortunately for the Bombers, while they pressed the attack for most of the game, his replacement in goal was the victim of a break-away counter attack that saw Hattieville’s Kenyon Lewis out-run the Bombers defense and beat their keeper, shaking the Bombers’ net for the first time in the tournament. It turned out to be the only goal of the game, giving Hattieville the 1-nil victory and the 2012 Smart 13 & Under Mundialito championship.
Immediately following the championship game, trophies to the winners and individual awards were issued by Smart representative Anthony Mahler as follows: Most Goals – Tyreque Ciego (United Rangers); Best Forward – Sherwin Requena (Brown Bombers); Best Midfield – Mario Rivera (Hattieville); Best Defense – Glen Arzu (Third World); Best Goalkeeper – Gregory Fisher (Brown Bombers); Best Coach – Paul Casimiro (United Rangers); Fair Play – Keron Patnett (City Boys Jr.); MVP – Tyreque Ciego (United Rangers).
The last game of the evening was an exciting 30-30 exhibition using the full length of the MCC (the Mundialito had played 20-20 and used a shortened pitch with small goals) between a Belize District U-15 selection that included some of the Mundialito stars, and the Gold Medal YWAM-Belmopan U-15 selection under coach Santi Valencia. And again fans were treated to some impressive team play from the visitors. The Belize District selection displayed a lot of individual talent, but the YWAM U-15 proved their Gold Medal status with remarkable poise under pressure and a cohesive orchestration in attack that could only come from persistent and enlightened tutelage and accomplished team discipline.
After a scoreless first half, YWAM took the lead with goals at the 12th and 18th minute of 2nd half, while kicking into the northern goal. The first was on a counter-attack on the right side, and Dmitri Fabro tapped the ball over a defender for Marlon Garcia to put YWAM ahead. The second was a beauty; it started from left midfield, with an upfield pass to striker Randy Serano on the left side, who drove toward the goal line, broke back and fed a diagonal pass back/right towards a trailing Marlon Garcia, who drained a ground pass across to his right into space for Rogi Solorzano, who controlled once and then blasted a right-foot shot from 22 yards out that tightened the net in the top left corner. Rising star Devaughn “Beckham” Zuniga was effectively contained by the tight YWAM defense, but Belize City talent Naim Wilson got a consolation goal for the District/Mundialito selection off a long free kick at the 22nd minute. Nevertheless, it ended 2-1 in favor of the YWAM U-15 Gold Medal squad, who were clearly the better team.
(Ed. Note: At the opening ceremony for the Mundialito back on September 29, Smart representative Anthony Mahler remarked that the cost of sponsoring the three-month tournament was “nothing compared to the potential cost to the community of NOT doing it,” in terms of the opportunity that could be lost in positively impacting the lives of so many young people. So, “let’s do it again” soon – U-10, U-12, U-15..?? Any sponsors out there?)