The New Zealand Communities Football Cup (NZCFC) celebrated its 10th year in existence last weekend in a bigger and better family-friendly event in Auckland than what it was first started.

The two-day tournament was held on Saturday (November 24) and Sunday (November 25) at Mangere Centre Park with 15 men’s teams and six women’s teams competing for the national title.

This year there was a mix of several new teams that came to the tournament for the first time such as Hermanos (Christchurch), Bullet Boys (Hamilton), Tosso Vitti (Auckland), along with more seasoned campaigners RYAN, Somalia, Ethio-Lions.

The final was played between RYAN and Ethio-Lions and won by the former with a final score of 1-0.

Rakesh Naidoo, Senior Inspector New Zealand Police and Strategic Adviser, Human Rights Commissioner, inaugurated the tournament, with a rousing speech to fire up the teams for the tournament.

Speaking to The Indian Weekender, Mr Naidoo said, “Right now there are numerous regional, ethnic communities cup all around the country.

“The NZCFC brings together all the regional communities football tournaments together at one platform.

“The aim of this cup is to bring together our diverse communities and get them to engage more positively with each other.”

The NZCFC is a culmination of over 1,000 regional football matches.

This year’s diverse line-up included teams representing Fiji, Argentina, Somalia, Poland, Myanmar, Tonga and the Solomon Islands.

The men’s tournament was played in five rounds with different teams playing against each other and progressing to elimination round and finals on the second day of the competition.

The Football Cup was developed by New Zealand Police in 2008 eyeing on young people’s passion for football to connect diverse communities, celebrate success and encourage positive social change.

In its tenth year, the festival has grown bigger and better than what it first started from and getting support and endorsement from key regional and government agencies. This year several local, government, and non-profit organisations, including New Zealand Football, regional councils, Multicultural New Zealand, have come together along with the NZ Police to fund and support the National Communities Cup.

The main objectives of the cup are promoting integration and positive community engagement amongst different communities and with government and local agencies.

New Zealand Football’s President Phil Barry was also present at the finals and the prize distribution ceremony to extend support.

Speaking to the Indian Weekender Mr Barry said, “It is exciting times for New Zealand football, especially with our women’s team and women’s U-17 team doing exceptionally well overseas. It just reflects what’s going on in our New Zealand football at the moment.”