Ipswich sent 2 teams to the Suffolk Youth Games Under 8's tournament at Culford yesterday afternoon with the sunny weather bringing out the confidence in all our players. The Ipswich Leopards were made up of Iolanthe Alty, Izzy Gebhard, Lauren Horsfield-Burton, Livvy Swallow, Charlie (Lingard) Thornhill and Alex (Bobby Kemperman) Swindin, with coach/manager Emma (Pep) Swallow organising the team both on and off the pitch while the Ipswich Lions, managed by Courtney (Klopp) Chisholm was made up of Freya Chapman, Willa Chisholm, Annabelle Crawford, Anya Lees and Clara Fox.
The Lions faced Felixstowe 2 in the first game and disappointingly lost 4-0 but the team showed they had something and after coach Courtney gave them a few tips and a bit of a confidence boost, they went out and played as a team and drew against IES2 in their next game, 1 all. A narrow loss to IES1, 2-1 was followed by a majestic performance with a 4-1 win and the Lions were flying. They visibly grew in confidence and teamwork as the afternoon went on.
Freya proved a real threat upfront while Willa and Anya were driving forces where ever they played, Anya proving real determination and Willa great skill and energy. Adding Clara's fantastic defending and distribution and Annabelle's fantastic touches and adaptability, as well as real hard work, they were the most improved team over the afternoon, finishing 4th in their group which lead to a crossover game to see who finished 7th overall against Felixstowe 1.
The Ipswich Lions roared into action and went in front with a wonderful individual goal from Willa, before an unfortunate moment in defence was capitalised on against the run of play and it was all square. Following a driving run again from Willa, a great through ball from Annabelle was finished well by Freya to restore Ipswich's lead and she netted a brace shortly afterwards to make it 3-1. Felixstowe scored on the final whistle to give the game a more flattering score line but Ipswich Lion's finished well with a 7th which was a wonderful achievement, especially after their first game against the eventual finalists, Felixstowe 2. Coach Courtney was impressed with his charges and they played some fantastic team hockey.
Ipswich Leopards sprung out of the traps winning their first game 5-1 against Felixstowe, followed by a 7-1 victory over Sudbury, the highlight being a wonderful long range pass from Charlie to Alex to beat the final defender and score. After that, the Leopards devoured Bury Antelopes and Bury Cheetahs and finished with a 5-1 victory over IES to win their group and make the final against Felixstowe 2, who had beaten the Lions in group 2.
Izzy and Libby worked tirelessly in midfield or at the back, breaking up play and making runs forwards with Izzy's energy being a real talking point while Lauren was very composed on the ball and drove forwards with purpose, even though she claimed she was tired - she certainly didn't play like it. Iolanthe played fantastically well and really got involved, linking play brilliantly with the silky skills of Charlie and Alex. When the Leopards had chances, they would strike and often were rewarded with goals.
The final was played at a frantic pace but after Alex put the Leopards in front after 3 minutes, the floodgates opened and they ran out worthy 5-nil winners to win the SYL Under 8's for 2018/19. Some wonderful play and goals throughout the day, with goals coming from Libby, Izzy, Charlie and Alex (who scored 25 overall).
Many thanks to all the parents for coming along and supporting and extra big thank you to both coach Emma and Courtney who played a wonderful role with the Leopards and Lions and the improvements from the first game to the last was astonishing.
Finally thanks to both teams who played with real skill and energy (and great sportsmanship) and were a joy to watch.