The under-12 team of Queens Park Football Club and South African Schools Football Association players who won the 2019 Manchester Cup tournament were in celebratory mood at Cape Town International Airport yesterday. Photo: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The under-12 team of mostly Woodstock-based soccer players were surprised to receive a hero's welcome upon their arrival at Cape Town International Airport yesterday.

The talented team members won the 2019 Manchester United Cup international tournament in the UK over Easter.

Queens Park Football Club secretary Ferial Alexander hailed their players and the SA Schools Football Association (Sasfa).

“There's so much one would want to do (to celebrate), but I think the welcome that we got (this morning) was a celebration on its own because we didn't expect that.

“That was an amazing welcome. We didn't expect the pictures (being taken of us), the families, the fellow members of the club, the players that came.

“I think among the players there will always be that celebration and I think that will put more eagerness into the others (who didn’t go) to want to go on the same trip (next time) as well.”

The club’s elated chairperson and coach, Adam Alexander, who also went on the trip, said they had only four months in which to arrange the tour to Manchester.

“Coming back with this cup is a big victory for us. We didn't expect this big turnout (of supporters) as a reception. But it was overwhelming. My heart is still pounding.

“I'm very excited. I think this (achievement) is a big boost for the rest of the community and the children that are suffering there in Woodstock to just be encouraged in the future.”

One of the parents, Rafiqa Booley, who also accompanied the players, said that after all the challenges the team and the trip’s organisers had gone through they came out on top.

“I’m just so proud of my boys,” said Booley.

The players had faced a number of hurdles before flying to England.

The trip was initially meant for Queens Park Football Club’s players, but because of financial constraints, Sasfa had joined forces with the club in supplying the rest of the squad of about 14 players.

Some of them come from disadvantaged communities.

The cost of this tour had a base-price of R30 000 a person, with additional costs for kit and spending.

Cape Times