The Sharjah Ramadan Football Championship (SRFC), organised by Sharjah Sports Channel, has announced the competition will have prize money totalling half a million dirhams, as some of the emirate’s strongest five-a-side teams battle for the title in the event’s 3rdedition from May 18 – June 1.
Sixteen adult teams will play in a four-group futsal knockout competition, and – for the first time – four junior sides will compete in a head-to-head format, making a total of 35 matches. The winner of the senior championship will receive AED 200,000, the losing finalist wins AED 100,000 and third place takes home AED 50,000. In the youth category, AED 50,000 dirhams will be awarded to winner and AED 30,000 to the runners-up. There will also be special prizes for the tournament’s highest goal scorer, the Most Valuable Player and the Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, the matches, being held at Sharjah Sports Club, will be watched by an audience of tens of thousands as Sharjah Sports Channel broadcasts each game, with commentary from expert pundits.
Although most of the futsal rules follow the five-a-side format, the matches are played on a hard court with a slightly smaller, heavier ball to reduce bounce. Players are also permitted to play the ball over head-height and can enter the penalty area but they are restricted to pitch markings, without being able to bring the walls into play.
The four groups feature four teams each: Group A includes Al Bayan FC; Leader Sport Club; Sport Forever; and Lenasi Club. Group B consists of: La Magica; SDI Club; Al Forsan; and Al Embrator. Group C is made up of: Enthar Club; The Falcons; Al Amal Club; and Sharjah Police. In Group D are Quattro; Al Bahri; Al Nojoom; and The National. The junior teams are Reach Target; Wasit Youth; Borkan; and Sport for All.
Following an opening ceremony, the opening game of the tournament on Friday May 18, will feature Reach Target and Wasit at 10:30 pm, while Al Bayan and Leader Sport will meet at 11:15 pm.
Al Borkan face Sport Forever on Saturday, May 19, at 10 pm, while Sport for All meet Linasi, and La Magica play SDI Club. Al Forsan will come up against the reigning champions Al Embrator who lifted the trophy last year.
Rashid Al Obaid, Director of Sharjah Sports Channel, said: "We were inundated with applications from clubs who wanted to take part in the tournament, reflecting not only its ever-increasing popularity, but also the number of people who are watching the broadcast, raising its profile and audience reach. Each year we see the positive effect on local sports as more and more people take to the pitches as a direct result of the competition."
He added: "We are confident that this edition of the tournament will meet and even exceed the extremely high standards of the previous events. And during the holy month of Ramadan, we want to give young, talented athletes the opportunity to take their favourite hobby to the next level in a competitive environment with superb facilities. At Sharjah Sports Channel we would also hope the interest that is generated will encourage people to go on to compete at local and Arab levels.”
The tournament is governed by the rules of the FIFA Futsal, based on the league system. Each team consists of a minimum of 15 players including rolling substitutes and a maximum of 14 players, with no more than two foreign players and four technical and administrative staff.
The games will be divided into three categories; the first round matches will be played over two 15-minute periods; in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, and the deciding game for third place, the matches will take place over two 20-minute periods, with a penalty shoot-out if the sides are level at full-time.
If the teams are drawn at the end of normal time in the final round matches, two five-minute halves of extra time will be played and if the deadlock is not broken, the match will be decided on a penalty shootout.
In keeping with FIFA regulations, any player who is shown the yellow card in more than one game or receives a red card during any of the games will be banned for the next match.
The Sharjah Sports Channel aims to highlight the skills of top local footballers, and maintain the prevalence of sports events throughout the holy month of Ramadan, introducing the audience new professional and talented athletes.