SEKISUI European Football Tournament 2019
On the 6th and 7th of September, the fourth edition of the SEKISUI European Football Tournament took place in Herkenbosch, Netherlands. It was a special experience for everyone involved – with exciting matches, fair play and friendship. At the end of the event, the clear winners were Team Mepke and a lot of fun!
A warm welcome to all teams
Nine teams from all over Europe represented their SEKISUI company while taking part in the fourth SEKISUI European Football Tournament in Herkenbosch, Netherlands. The players arrived on the evening before the tournament at the clubhouse SVH’39. Some of the players were already familiar with the location since the tournament in 2017 took place here, too. The participants enjoyed meeting again, welcomed familiar and new faces and talked about their experience of the past tournaments.
The schedule for the evening was similar to the last years: After a joint dinner, there was a warm welcome by the organization team – this year from SEKISUI Europe B.V. and SEKISUI Alveo B.V. After some important explanations on the tournament, Hiroshi Kobayashi, Managing Director of SEKISUI Europe B.V., drew the groups and thereby the first matches for the following tournament day. Before the teams competed against each other on the pitch though, the highlight of the first evening followed: some ice-breaking activities.
Mixed teams from different companies had to join forces and master different tasks. Besides a speed dating to get to know each other there was table football, a football wall, some quizzes and a football circle. Different tasks and a lot of fun. And a great way to involve new players, to get to know everyone and to network with colleagues from different SEKISUI companies.
Ready, set, let’s go!
After a good sleep and a nourishing breakfast all players met again at the football pitch on Saturday morning. What is first? Getting changed and warming up! There is always a very special atmosphere before the tournament. All players are very concentrated and you can feel the energy and the excitement on the pitch. But there is also a mood full of anticipation for the coming day.
Despite the rain forecast, the tournament started in perfect weather conditions – and it stayed like this for the whole time. There were some clouds and fresh wind, but most of the time the sun was shining at pleasant temperatures. The beautiful weather also motivated many colleagues, family members and friends to come by to cheer for their team and to spend a good time at the pitch.
As in 2018, nine teams competed against each other after a sophisticated plan. All matches before lunch were played in two group phases. In the first phase, the teams played against each other in groups A, B and C.
The draw from the night before promised tension from the first minute as Group B was called “the group of death” even before the tournament started. If you’ve followed the last SEKISUI Football Tournaments, then you know that the two finalists from last year (Hispania FC and Team Mepke) and a strong favourite (Amateurs For Victory) formed this group. It was a stormy affair in the first phase: Hispania FC won against AFV with the first goal of the tournament, Team Mepke overcame AFV with a 2-1 and final, the two favourites decided the group win (Team Mepke) and the 2nd place (Hispania FC) in a 0-0 match.
In the first phase of the other group matches you could see clear favourites, too: Born Toulouse won Group A with two triumphs, closely followed by the English team Sorry in Advance. In Group C both SSE United and Alveo United dominated with wins against Zwarte Samurai.
All there is to say about the tournament: tough competition, fair games!
What we saw in the first group phase: Ambitious teams, fair play, a fun atmosphere and the friendly interaction of colleagues from all over Europe – on and off the pitch. Javier Rojo, the team captain of last year’s tournament winner Hispania FC: “As usual, the event is a lot of fun! Most of us are amateur players, but it is great to have our own SEKISUI European Championship. Everyone here has a good time and enjoys being part of it.”
Javier’s team started the second group phase with a defeat against the tough competition of Born Toulouse, but then the team won with a historic 13:0 against the Japanese team Zwarte Samurai. Based on the first results, the teams were re-mixed and divided into the groups D, E and F:
Group D: Born Toulouse, Hispania FC, Zwarte Samurai
Group E: Team Mepke, Alveo United, TTLB
Group F: SSE United, Sorry in Advance, AFV
Born Toulouse was the group winner again, Team Mepke continued to shine with two wins against Alveo United and TTLB in Group E, and Sorry in Advance made the first place in Group F by a lucky draw against AFV and a win against SSE United. After a nearly endless penalty shootout between the other two teams in Group F, AFV landed behind SSE United due to a missed penalty.
Finally, the players were able to take a relaxing break at lunch time. Good food, good atmosphere and good company. The best method to recharge and prepare for the last matches and decisions!
Team Mepke are the champions
Due to the 9-team play mode, the finals were not played one after the other. There were several classification games that decided the final ranking.
The critical phase started with the decision of place 8 and 9. Although Zwarte Samurai scored their first goal of the tournament in the match against Alveo United, they ended up in the last place with a 3-1 defeat. “Being here is everything and we are once again very happy to be part of the tournament,” said Shinji Yasukata, the captain of Zwarte Samurai.
Places 5 to 8 were played off in 2 rounds – the last games were decided by exciting penalty shootouts: Alveo United convinced against TTLB and SSE United won against AFV.
In the playoffs of places 1 to 4, the two favourites Team Mepke and Hipania FC ended up again in an exciting KO semi-final. Just like in last year’s final, this game was decided by penalty shootouts – and this time the home team was lucky again. Team Mepke won 2-1 against Hispania FC, who finally landed in third place with a 2-0 win over Born Toulouse in the next match.
In the end Sorry in Advance and Team Mepke played against each other in a thrilling final. Team Mepke convinced with strength in the defence altough the English keeper Richie Stroud tried to break through it with long throw-ins over and over again. During the second half Team Mepke also showed his strong offense and Ismail Kiki shot his team to the leading 1-0, before he also scored to 2-0. Finally, the 3-0 by Giovanni Latte decided the match for Team Mepke shortly before the whistleblow. A competitive and intense final!
The final positions were:
1st place: Team Mepke
2nd place: Sorry in Advance
3rd place: Hispania FC
4th place: Born Toulouse
5th place: Alveo United
6th place: SSE United
7th place: Amateurs for Victory
8th place: Tikkie Takkie Like Barcelona
9th place: Zwarte Samurai
After the final matches and a short recovery time to shower, change and recharge batteries, the award ceremony took place in the club house. The teams were honored under applause with medals for all players and trophies for the three top teams. There were individual trophies for the best player (Giovanni Latte, Team Mepke) and best goalkeeper (Richie Stroud, Sorry in Advance). On top, the fairest team was awarded: This year, Zwarte Samurai were honoured for their sportsmanship once again. From all teams, they could convince as fairest team – although all players were aware of the importance of safety; there were no serious injuries.
The players of Team Mepke gathered their last forces to celebrate their win to the fullest on the stage. But as everyone is a winner at the SEKISUI European Football Tournament, they shared their joy with everyone.
Also, the winning team of the ice-breaking activities on Friday was announced. And the winner of the SEKISUI football bet was presented to the audience: Graham Bates from SEKISUI Diagnostics UK will donate 430 EURO to the “Heart of Kent Hospice“.
After dinner the players let the evening end in a relaxed atmosphere.
This was the SEKISUI European Football Tournament 2019!
We want to thank all participants and helpers for making it such a great event.
All pictures of this year’s tournament can be viewed and downloaded here.