Bangkok, Thailand – On Saturday, March 16th, the 1st edition of the Diplomatic MiniFootball Cup 2019 brought together 8 teams composed of different Embassies and International organizations in order to participate in this friendly competition that aims to get funds to aid young categories in Thailand.
On this occasion, the tournament is under the “Visit Panama” partnership, promoting Panama as a Sports Tourism destination for 2019, while highlighting the internal development that has been going on in Panama’s Sports Culture. Among the promoted are disciplines, venues, and competitions, such as Provincial baseball, basketball professional league, Panama’s International half and full marathon, cycling and rowing from Ocean to Ocean, Sports City Irving Saladino, Roberto’s Duran Arena and the mighty Rommel Fernandez for football. Considering that 2 major events will be occurring later in 2019, such as The Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru and The Copa America in Brazil, Panama also has a major role as linking visitors from all around the world to both of them.
The sun rose up and athletes were ready to register at Soccer Pro Bang Na in which a volunteer task force made up by AFS International Program’s students instructed the players and handed over important guidelines towards their participation. Prior to the inaugural ceremony, all team’s captain got together with the tournament’s officials to do a rundown of the rules and the nature of this friendly tournament for charity.
The Kickoff was at 09.00 hrs. sharp and started with 2 groups of 4 teams each. On Group A we had the US embassy, the UK Embassy, The International Committee of the Great Cross and “Los Libertadores” a mixed team exclusively coordinated for this tournament with participants from Chile, Uruguay, Poland, Colombia, Swiss, Czech Republic, Holland, Spain, Iran, and Argentina. On Group B, we had a group of young talents from Stamford International University, the German Embassy, the Russian Embassy, and another special team made up for this tournament, under the name of Thai friends, it represents TMA (Thailand MiniFootball Association) which is the maximum authority of MiniFootball in Thailand.
Every team from both groups A and B saw action in the 12 matches from the first round.
The first round finished with amazing football displayed at each match, and those who made it to the next round were the British Embassy as group leader and the USA Embassy as second on group A, and The German Embassy as group leader and Stamford International University as second in Group B. During the break, players had the chance to recover with a meal provided by Thai Youth Sports and beverage from M-150, also Kinesio tape offered taping muscles for those athletes who were starting to feel the fatigue of the competition.
Most of the distinguished guest and representatives for sports and international organizations in Thailand arrived for the Semifinals, who witness how The British Embassy took over Stamford International by 3-1 on one key, and at the other semifinal the German Embassy gave a surprise by overcoming a very organize US Embassy team on a shoulder to shoulder game that ended up in 2-1.
The British Embassy team and the German Embassy team were ready to face each other for the Visit Panama Diplomatic Cup’s final, but before H.E. Maria Martinez, Ambassador of Panama to the Kingdom of Thailand, shared her personal thoughts and message to the audience and participants, thanking them for their efforts and time towards such a soul-warming initiative. Bringing people together to participate in a Sport Discipline such as MiniFootball, that would help young talents to overcome their difficulties and promote a healthy way of live by traveling to different destinations by the mere purpose of Sports Tourism, at the same time invited everyone to Visit Panama during 2019 to either witness or participate in any of the displayed disciplines that will be happening in Panama, also to promote its connectivity to reach out to international competitions on neighbor countries.
Gifts were given to 3 MVP’s from the first round during the Final’s show lead by Mr. Mark Kolenberg, from ITL (International True Lovers) and then gave a pass to the most awaited match of the day, the Final Match. Everyone got their sit to witness how The German Embassy team battled every ball to overcome an outstanding performance given by the British Embassy team, which to be honest, it could have gone either way, becoming the Champions of the 1st Edition of the Diplomatic MiniFootball Cup.
All the participants got their reward for their effort as a memorabilia medal given from their experience in the Tournament. But the most grateful reward was that the Champions and the runner up donated 5,000.00 Thai baht each one to schools in need plus a kind gesture from the International Committee of the Great Cross who also donated 4,000.00 Thai Baht, giving a grand total of 14,000.00 THB, proving once more that friendly sports tournaments are great to bring people together for a good cause.
The Embassy of Panama in Thailand wishes to thank Wyncoast Industrial Parks, The Honorary Consul of Panama in Thailand, Thai Youth Sports, M-150, ITL, Kinesio, AFS International Program, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Head of diplomatic missions in Thailand, the distinguished guest and representatives of International Organizations in Thailand, and mostly to the participants who will bring joy to the young talents that aim to get a better future by becoming professional athletes.
Panama is a land of connectivity with many allies around the globe, and this event proved for once more that in terms of friendship and long term objectives, Panama has the right mindset and aims to support activities that enhance the quality of life of those who support it.
Visit Panama Successful Participation Medal (left), Stamford International University team (right)
The next edition of the Diplomatic Cup will be taking place in August, as the TMA prepares the Thai National team that will represent Thailand in the MiniFootball 2019 World Cup, taking place in Perth, Australia during the month of October, availed by WMF (World MiniFootball Federation).