As with a lot in things in Africa finally holding the Bridges Cup Finals took much longer than I expected. After 2.5 years of extremely difficult work since our very first Save-A-Thon trip to see these four worthy teams, hundreds of fans, the six great women from RSL, two of my kids and my great operations team gather in the stadium in Lagos was truly a dream come true! Honestly, I wasn’t sure it would come together as well as it did.
The finals were held at Yaba Tech College Stadium. Admission to the matches was free and we had a great turnout! By my unofficial count around 800-900 people! It was a VERY fun day to watch the finals for the girls and boys teams. They had traveled to Lagos the day before on very crowded buses for 5 hours and stayed many people to a room that night. No doubt it was a difficult journey for them and I was impressed with the strength, energy and determination they brought to their matches.
Both matches were fantastic to watch. The girls match was decided by a penalty kick in the last minute of the match. The boys match was decided by penalty kick shootout after tying in regulation and was thrilling to witness.
At the end of it all the champions for the girls was QueenStars. The boys champs was the MendorFC team.
It was exhilarating to see the faces and excitement on the faces of the champions while it was equally heartbreaking to see the sadness on the faces of the runners-up.
In my book ALL of these kids were winners because they know how to work and play with determination. We expect to see these players continue to work hard to participate in our future competitions as well as our educational opportunities.
Last note is that I was thrilled to see that the many fans in attendance seemed to really enjoy the friendly match between the Americans and the Nigerians. We split the six RSL-Women players into two teams and they were joined by some great young women players. We only had time to do 10 minute halves as we had to start heading to the airport to catch our flight home. And as hot as it was I know the RSL-Women would have loved to play much longer. Next time…
Now, we move on to continuing to keep our word and get these two championship teams here to the USA in 2016. (More on that shortly.)