Fenix ​​Trophy: A brand new shot at European glory for semi-professional and beginner golf equipment

FC United of Manchester celebrate winning the Fenix ​​Trophy
FC United beat Prague Raptors 2-0 in Rimini to win the inaugural Fenix ​​Trophy in June

Followers in purple gathered at Milan Bergamo airport, hoping for a glimpse of their victorious heroes on the way in which again to Manchester. Their group had simply received a European trophy, evoking reminiscences of Sir Bobby Charlton, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo doing the identical factor.

Solely the congregation wasn’t there to greet a aspect oozing with the world’s greatest stars, as an alternative they have been ready for non-leaguers FC United of Manchester, who in June received the inaugural Phoenix Trophyexternal-link – a European competitors for semi-professional and beginner golf equipment.

In doing so, FC United – a breakaway membership arrange by dissenting Manchester United followers in 2005 and at present within the seventh tier of English soccer – had earned themselves a particular standing.

“We have been the one English membership to win a European trophy final season, so I am going to take that,” laughs Reds boss Neil Reynolds.

“To deliver the trophy house via the airport and having my youngsters see us profitable it was unimaginable. We will say we have received a European trophy and no one can take that away from us.

“Our followers have seen it occur with Manchester United, now they’ve seen it with FC United.”

The thought for the Fenix ​​Trophy was first mooted in late 2020 by Alessandro Aleotti, chairman of Italian non-league aspect Brera FC.

Aleotti established Brera in 2000 with a imaginative and prescient of turning into Milan’s third soccer membership. He noticed European competitors as the proper step in the direction of that objective, so with the assistance of his son Leo, Brera’s normal supervisor, he set about creating one.

The title Fenix ​​is ​​an acronym representing the event’s core values: pleasant; European; nonprofessional; progressive; and xenial, which comes from the Historical Greek phrase xenos, indicating an angle of hospitality in the direction of strangers.

The Aleottis did not merely need any previous golf equipment to turn into a Fenix ​​member, although, and began looking for non-professional outfits from throughout the continent that match their standards.

Whereas there have been sure logistical and aggressive components to contemplate – comparable to proximity to a significant airport and making certain groups performed between the sixth and eighth tiers of their respective nations – Leo says they needed “to seek out golf equipment who have been distinctive, iconic on some stage and gave visibility to non-professional soccer”.

For final 12 months’s entrants, that meant golf equipment which have a storied previous however have fallen on arduous occasions, or ones with a transparent social or neighborhood objective, comparable to being supporter-owned like FC United.

Among the many competitors have been two-time Belgian champions KSK Beveren, who misplaced to Barcelona within the 1978-79 Cup Winners Cup semi-final, and Amsterdam’s DWS, who received the Eredivisie title in 1964 and depend Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard as youth-team alumni

Brera even have their very own hyperlink to historical past due to their house, Enviornment Civica. The bottom first opened in 1807, making it the oldest stadium in mainland Europe, and was the previous house of each huge Milan golf equipment earlier than they moved to the San Siro.

On the different finish of the size are Prague Raptors, a aspect based mostly within the Czech capital that prides itself on offering an inclusive surroundings for all.

“We weren’t within the first part of golf equipment Brera have been chatting with and assume we have been the final ones they approached,” says Prague Raptors’ English president Daz Moss, who began the membership in 2017 on the whim of his five-year- previous son Lukas.

“We have been chosen as a result of we would donated a undertaking a number of months earlier than with AKS Zly, a Polish aspect that have been in final 12 months’s event, to get extra ladies into soccer, as a result of we need to break down obstacles and are very pro-diversity.

“It was wonderful for us. It shines a light-weight on all of the issues we’re making an attempt to do. It actually helps when it comes to folks noticing us and even simply right down to shirt gross sales, we have seen an increase in international locations we have been concerned with.”

Phoenix Trophy
Brera and FC United met on the Enviornment Civica in April 2022 – the English aspect received 3-1

Final 12 months’s event noticed two teams of 4 play one another house and away, with the winners of every part coming collectively for the ultimate in Rimini in Italy in June. The opposite six sides have been additionally in attendance to play matches based mostly on their group standings to resolve a ultimate rating.

And whereas FC United triumphed within the ultimate with a 2-0 win over Prague Raptors to raise the trophy, it was the human tales and moments the competitors created that stood out for the Fenix ​​founders.

“It was wonderful and everybody was so enthusiastic,” Leo says. “We had a really various composition of gamers coming from all around the world and with each type of expertise, from UPS drivers to school college students.

“For a number of the gamers to play overseas was nice. For some it was a once-in-a-lifetime expertise and I keep in mind there was one man I noticed from Gambia who was virtually crying when he received on a aircraft to play in Poland.

“It was his first time catching a aircraft, so to get that have as a result of he was taking part in within the Fenix ​​Trophy is the most effective projection of the competitors you can also make.”

For victors FC United, it was an opportunity to get their palms on a particular piece of silverware and provides their followers, a few of whom used to journey throughout Europe for large Champions League nights with Manchester United, a possibility to relive these reminiscences of their new stew.

Becoming the additional matches and journey into an already busy non-league schedule did include challenges for the Reds’ part-time gamers, however few have been complaining.

Reynolds says: “Taking part in in Milan on a Wednesday night, we set off on the Wednesday morning to fly over, had the sport and traveled again on Thursday afternoon. We received house on Thursday night, the lads needed to go to work on the Friday and we have been touring three hours to play Morpeth away on the Saturday.

“It makes me snigger after I hear these Premier League managers moaning about European and league fixtures.

“It is full on and there isn’t any time to relaxation, particularly for these lads who’re engineers or electricians, and do not take pleasure in a therapeutic massage or a swimming pool to help restoration between matches, however they’re going to always remember the expertise. As arduous and demanding as it’s, we would not change it for the world.”

The second version of the Fenix ​​Trophy is about to get below method, and it has already grown in dimension, with 9 golf equipment now participating in a three-group first part earlier than the finals event this summer season.

FC United’s protection kicks off in opposition to KSK Beveren on 15 November, with Spanish aspect Cuenca Mestallistes finishing their group.

Brera’s Leo Aleotti is pleased with the competitors’s progress up to now, however has ambitions for it to develop even additional sooner or later if budgets enable.

“There are three new groups and two new international locations getting into this 12 months, however there’s a number of room left to develop and enhance,” he says.

“This present format is nice and so long as we hold the numbers to 12, 15 or 18 groups, we will implement this three-team group format, though sooner or later we’ll have to make a bounce to a different kind of format – maybe a knockout part – that permits us to have a a lot wider community.

“An enormous a part of the choice is the monetary affordability of golf equipment and it is more durable for these from much less rich areas of Europe to self-fund taking part in in 4 or perhaps six video games every year.

“There must be a monetary incentive for individuals who undergo to the following stage to have the ability to afford the additional video games and it is a setup I see for the long run, though I do not know the way distant that future is. It is a goal we must always purpose for as a result of it is the way in which to cowl much more territory.”

Regardless of the Fenix ​​Trophy’s purity of competitors, funds are the important thing to the event actually taking off on a a lot bigger scale. So has Leo received any potential sponsors in thoughts?

“As a result of the event is self-financed, we’re relying on the low-cost airways, so perhaps Ryanair needs to be our sponsor sooner or later,” he jokingly ponders. “We have now so many footage of groups posing in entrance of plans, they need to undoubtedly take into account it.”

Get a benefactor on board and the sky actually is the restrict for the Fenix ​​Trophy.

Leave a Comment