Always after new players, the C.I.F.L is a 7 a side football league which began in October 2011 and is comprised of 9 teams, each with their roots in different nationalities but whose membership is by no means constrained to citizenship. Each year there are two ten week seasons, an Apertura (Opening Season from March to May) and a Clausura (Closing Season from October to December). Each team plays each other once and the final day is an all-day knock out cup competition, named the ‘Sebastian Müller Cup’ after a well-loved member of the Chengdu footballing community who sadly passed away in June 2012.
The first the matches were played at Taipingsi, though from the middle of March they play at 华西中学 near the East Music Park.
Lets refresh ourselves on the story of last season.
Universally heralded as the most competitive season yet, the league went into the final day of the season with four teams still in with a shout of winning the title. All the teams had their moments to shine both on and off the pitch and, more than ever, the community spirit of the league was evident.
Fresh from last April’s unlikely cup victory, pun-tastic ‘Bao-Zi-Lona’ maintained their momentum sweeping all before them as the finished the second half of 2012 unbeaten. Dropping only four points as they marched on to add the CIFL trophy to last June’s Cup victory. Running them close were the former UK & Ireland team, newly renamed to the somewhat risqué Deportivo Wanka. I am reliably informed that this is the namesake of their parent club in Peru and while on face value it may smack of boisterous tomfoolery, it in fact is not merely a rude name and it is indicative of the club’s close Peruvian ties.
After a bitterly disappointing Apertura which saw them come bottom of the league with a record of 1 victory and 10 losses, Los Wankeros were the surprise package of this year’s Clausura. After an second match defeat to BaoZiLona, Depor went on a run of seven wins out of seven, going into the final day of the league on top of the pile. In a dramatic turn of events reminiscent of the Barclay’s Premier League, a last gasp equaliser from their fitting opponents WMD FC, a disgruntled breakaway team from the old UK & Ireland outfit, condemning their former allies to a trophy-less 2nd place finish.
Special mention also should go to the newly formed TCI Turks, whose attractive expansive football was a joy to behold, their status as the league’s top scorers indicative of their caution-to-the-wind attitude.
* CIFL Champions – BaoZiLona
* CIFL Player of the Season – David Schelstraete (TCI Turks)
* CIFL Top Scorer – Almamy Conde (TCI Turks) & Paulo Xavier (Athletico Esperanto)
* CIFL Spirit of the League – La Bringue Paillade / WMD FC. (WMD won the penalty shoot-out style boat race to seal their victory)
Looking forward to the 2013 Apertura, the league is always on the lookout for new players and even entire new teams – reigning champions BaoZiLona were a group of teachers who entered a team before they’d even arrived in Chengdu!
Regardless of ability or age, anyone who is interested in playing can contact the league at any time, please send an email to [email protected] – For anyone who might be interested, here’s a small profile of the teams that are confirmed for the coming season.
Athletico Esperanto (5th Place)
AKA: The Pet Shop Boys
Captain: Paolo Xavier
Stemming from the former European team, Athletico have German and Iberian roots. Always with a strong pedigree, Athletico were the reigning champions coming into the last instalment. A wave of departures of some of their key men (including their captain) led to a disappointing campaign where they finished 5th. Coming into the new season they will be looking to bolster their squad list, with greater consistency on the agenda. Should this transfer window be a successful one for them, it would take a bold man to bet against a return to winning ways.
AKA: IES Globetrotters
Captain: Robin Roy
The boys in Orange headed into the season on the back of a memorable Sebastian Muller Cup victory but it didn’t quite start as expected with a draw on the opening day of the season that was followed up by a few narrow wins but before too long they were racking up the goals and victories. Always happy to let their feet rather than their mouths do the talking they clinically mowed their way through the competition. Few could argue they deserved the title although some did. Over the winter a few players will leave and a few will be added but BaoZiLona will be sure to start the new season as early favourites.
La Bringue Paillade (8th Place)
AKA: The Drunk Young Frenchies
Captain: Mederic Pommarel
It’s been said of legendary French midfielder Claude Makelele that he was so effective, those on his team felt they were playing with an extra man on their side. Embodying the complete antithesis of their compatriot, the young French gentlemen who joined together to form Le Bringue Paillade have each weekend contrived to leave themselves feeling a man down through a hedonistic mixture of a carefree approach to training and devout commitment to binge drinking the night before a game. While some teams may choose carbohydrates-only diets & enforce strict curfews, the only pre-match requirement for The Binge of the Paillade (a reference to their university campus in Montpellier and what ostensibly it is famous for) is that you are out until 4am and that you come home steaming. In what is set to be their final competition before they return to France, these boys are sure to go out with a bang.
Chaname Rovers (9th Place)
GM: Melon Yang
This season marked a noticeable decline in the standard of football played by Chaname. It is hard to put your finger on why as they have plenty of talented guys and girls within their squad. A season with only one victory is not what we expect of the once mighty Chinese team. Perhaps having to deal with all the mischief from other teams in Paname the night before games took Melon’s eyes off the ball. However with Melon’s recruitment policy and 14,000,000 people in Chengdu surely next season can’t go as poorly.
AKA: Los Wankeros
Captain: David Nicholson
The Wankas entered the season on the back of two dismal seasons in the CIFL and with only one win in the calendar year. All over Chengdu team captains were placing bets on their teams to beat the Wankas but it was the Wankas who were to have the last laugh with some aces up their sleeves. With almost an entirely new team it was to be a complete reversal of fortune for them. As mentioned, it was only a final match against unfancied WMD that ultimately cost them the title. Having suffered no major departures for the first time ever, Los Wankeros will be looking to go one better and add a trophy to their cabinet currently full of wooden spoons!
NAS FC (3rd Place)
AKA: The Yanks
Captain: Rick Shatz
Despite a third place finish it is fair to say that NAS FC will be slightly disappointed with their season. A very slow start to the season partially due to a few key players departing saw them almost out of the running before the first few weeks were over. The season will also be remembered for two very bad injuries to key players and everyone will be hoping that both are at least able to play some part next season. 2013 should be an interesting year for NAS as they look to blend the existing players with some new faces.
Super Eagles (N/A)
AKA: Da Buzz Bar Boyz
Captain: Mark 10
After narrowly missing out on the title in the previous two instalments, the former Team Africa was unable to submit a team for the last Championship. This year however, they will be putting forward a team and you can be sure it will be set to challenge again.
Turks & Caicos Islands Turks (4th Place)
AKA: Nepaleon Dynamo
Captain: David Schelstraete
Partly due to the seemingly redundant repetition of what is a misleading nominal representation of their ancestry, no one knows or understands this team’s mysterious name. Largely comprised of the old team France (and to lesser degree, Nepal) the Turks and Caicos Islands Turks can in actual fact include no Turks in their ranks, nor indeed any Caicos(ers?). Therefore begging not only the question ‘why that name?’ but also ‘why is Turks repeated and not Caicos?’; it has been mooted that there in fact runs a strong racially motivated anti-Caicos(er?) sentiment within the ranks of the TCI Turks owing to an unfortunate sexual incident from a bygone episode in the life of one of the key members of the team. Whatever the rumour mill crops up in relation to this interesting sub-plot, one thing can be certain, on their day these guys can beat anyone. Always dangerous going forward, the Turks have added some big signings at the back in order to combat their comparative vulnerability in defence. Those looking for this season’s Dark Horses should look no further.
WMD FC (6th Place)
AKA: The Leg & Whistle
GM: Rob Brien
WMD FC was the surprise package of the season. A new team with a stated goal at the beginning of the season of playing for fun and drinking beer showed by the end of the season that they were much more than that whilst still sticking to their original ideal. As with any pub team there was a bit of bedding in but after a few weeks things started looking up and victories looked like they were coming. WMD were able to put in the performance of the season to draw 3-3 with Deportivo Wanka and in doing so were able to change the final destination of the league trophy. All eyes will be on managerial supremo Rob Brien to see what trick he has up his sleeve this year and if it can match the Samba Invasion of last year.