Leicester Maher Tournament 2019
Article written by Sonia Suresh Modhwadia (London)
Sunday 22nd September may have greeted members of the Maher community with grey skies and the odd spell of rain; but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the participants and supporters from across the UK who arrived in Leicester for the annual Maher Tournament.
There was of course some doubt the tournament would take place this year, the UK Maher Association president, Vimalji Odedra, echoed this sentiment, ‘At the time, I felt there wouldn’t be a sports tournament in 2019, Loughborough cancelled the pre-planned
tournament at the last minute to make a better and bigger tournament next year. But, in the short period of time they had, the LMCA sport team arranged a tournament that was fantastic, despite some of the drawbacks and bad weather’.
Keeping with the trend of introducing new sports, as Luton introduced Basketball the previous year, Leicester decided to include an indoor cricket tournament. An appropriate choice, given the Cricket World Cup drama and disappointing result for all Indian fans, from earlier in the year. However, Loughborough didn’t disappoint their fans as they were crowned the first winners of the day, with the Red Bulls taking home the runners up trophies.
As the cricket wrapped up, the badminton, table tennis and netball courts were quickly set up. Unfortunately, there were far fewer participants in the various badminton categories. But, of course some familiar faces did appear.
Kid’s football, that was delayed to save them from playing in the rain, was a fun and exciting opportunity for the younger players to show their talent, particularly; Yug Sisodia (Under 11s) and Rahul Odedra (Under 16s), who won the player of the tournament for their respective categories. One noticeable positive this year, was the number of female players in the London teams; who came runners up in both under 11s and under16s.
One of the most anticipated events of the day was the Senior Football finals, unfortunately for London and Luton, last years finalists, neither made it to the anticipated final game. This year, the battle for the winners trophy was between the unbeaten Peterborough team and Loughborough Young Boys. Though Loughborough gave Peterborough a good fight, they fell to the better team. Neil Godhania, the player of the tournament, scored the winning goal said:
‘We knew it would be a tough tournament as there were a lot of different teams entering this year and we knew we would have our work cut out for us. However, we stuck to our game plan and it paid off; going unbeaten throughout the whole tournament. This says a lot about the character and confidence we have within the team. That euphoric feeling of winning, is something else. I know I won the player of the tournament, but this would not have been possible without the squad. I hope this is the start of more to come.’
Netball was this years most watched event of the day. Four teams arrived Sunday morning; Birmingham, who have now participated three years in a row, London A, the reigning champion, London B, the youngest team with three players aged 12, and Peterborough, whose participation was a surprise welcome.
Each team fought hard to get to the finals, but perhaps it was fate that London and Peterborough would be the finalists. London were playing to defend their title and Peterborough to win it back after 7 years. Incidentally, 7 years ago was the last time London A lost a Netball Finals.
There were ample supporters on both sides, the Peterborough side with the Men’s Football winners backing their players and the London crowd that had travelled to Leicester. It was almost like being transported back seven years, to the tournament that haunted the London netball team to that day. They had been waiting for Peterborough to reappear for a rematch for years. Some of the girls were even nervous, doubting the certainty they’d had at the start of the day. But, with the crowd of Londoners behind them, Kavita Modhwadia’s fast and fearless movements and Priya Modhwadia’s faultless shooting; Peterborough were no match for the reigning champions, who comfortably won 10-0. Kavita, the youngest player for London A, went on to win the player of the tournament.
There were a few comments and questions about which towns, players played for. Meaning if you were from Leicester, you would have to play for a Leicester team. As you can imagine, some welcomed the suggestion and others challenged it.
The most important announcement made before the trophy ceremony was about the 2020 Annual Maher Tournament. As most may be aware, the 2019 tournament was meant to be held in Loughborough. However, due to the scale of their plans, it was decided Leicester would host this year, giving Loughborough more time to prepare. Loughborough intend to hold a two-day tournament, over the August bank holidays, Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th August. To us, younger Mahers this may seem a foreign concept, but to the older generation, a nod to the past. The 2020 tournament will be the 45th tournament, since the tradition was started in 1975.
This year’s tournament was given a strict schedule by the organisers, though, inevitably, there was some variations, the tournament was wrapped up nicely by 8:30pm, giving everyone enough time to enjoy a few drinks at a local pub. There was a sign of relief from
the organiser, Vikram Gorania who wanted to say:
‘Thank you to all the participants for bringing so much energy and positivity to the sporting event, without them the event wouldn’t have been the success it was! I truly appreciate the support from all the individuals who helped organise the event. A special thank you to LMCA for sponsoring the event.’
Complete List of Winners and Runners up (apologies for any mistakes or omissions, list was based on information that was available):
11 and Under Football
Runners up: London A
Player of the Tournament: Yug Sisodia
16 and Under Football:
Winner: London A
Runners up: Leicester
Player of the Tournament: Rahul Odedra
Winners: Peterborough A
Runners up: Loughborough Young Boys
Player of the Tournament: Neil Godhania (Peterborough)
Goal Keeper of the Tournament: Bix Odedra (Peterborough)
Top Goal Scorer: Bhavick Matra (Peterborough)
Winners: London A
Runners up: Peterborough
Player of the Tournament: Kavita Modhwadia (London)
Winner: Suresh Sida
Runner up: Nilesh Kuchhadia
Winner: Mira Modhwadia
Runner up: Riya Odedra
Badminton Men’s Doubles
Winners: Nilesh and Deep Kuchhadia
Runners up: Kishor and Shivam Odedra
Badminton Mixed Doubles
Winners: Kishor and Mira Modhwadia
Runners up: Suresh Sida and Payal Odedra
Winner: Deep Kuchhadia
Runner up: Nilesh Kuchhadia
Runners up: Leicester Red Bulls