Y8 Brent Football Champions!

Wednesday 29 March 2023

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that Year 8 wrote a new chapter in Ark Academy history, as our first winners of the Brent Boys’ Football Cup.

Frustratingly, we lost the Ark Schools Final earlier this season in the dreaded penalty shootout. The squad were determined to go one better in the Brent Cup!

Having finished top of the league, and qualified for the final after last week’s semi-final against Preston Manor, there was a mixture of nerves and anticipation ahead of the match with Queens Park at the Middlesex Stadium in Rectory Park.

We had lost 3-7 away at QPCS in the league, so the team knew they would have to perform to their best.


First half

In the first half, Andrei and Stefan Paun and Shyan Ricketts menaced the opposition defence. Their aggressive pressing and speed on the break were too much for QPCS to handle. We took a 1-0 lead after 10 minutes when Andrei placed a precise finish beyond the opposition ‘keeper.

10 minutes before half-time, Marius Trocaru picked up the ball in midfield and marauded upfield. In a fine attacking combination with the twins and Delakshan Jayesaleen, Stefan speared a second, to cap Marius’ driving run.

Our first half was an “all time great” performance from an Ark side, underpinned by Bilal Saleem’s fearless display in midfield. He popped up all over the pitch, winning colossal challenges on the ground and in the air, and set a platform for the rest of the team to get the glory. The front 6 were in imperious form.

In defence Ayaan Hussain, Daniel Gaitos, Jake Oni and Kanosan Theiventhiran communicated well with Paulo Sebastiao in goal, making a good effort to organise a defensive line and ensuring they cleared the ball whenever QPCS threatened to break.

Other chances didn’t quite fall our way, but the team came into the half-time break oozing confidence.


Second half

Abdul Abdulmalik and Abderrahman Benhagougo joined the action at half-time, taking their places in midfield and defence. Despite much of the team talk focusing on improving our defensive line, we shipped an early goal to QPCS when their striker scored a fine pirouette-lob with two of our defenders calling for offside.

In what was the highlight of the match and the season, Bilal received the re-take and marched the team back into opposition territory, exchanged passes and fired home a lazer-guided missile to immediately restore the two-goal advantage. The sheer force of personality displayed by Bilal today had to be seen to be believed.

In the latter stages, Shyan again was unfortunate not to extend the lead, and the trio of attackers continued their relentless, energetic attacks. Captain Stefan got a second, and both Andrei and Shyan deserved more, whilst Marius hit an awesome freekick just over.

To see out the match, Muad came on at centre-froward, with Stefan dropping into defence to secure the result.

Rudra played the final 4 minutes on the left wing and made some harrying runs and pressed their full back well.

The midfield performances of Bilal and Marius in the final ten minutes were superlative. With QPCS throwing everything they had forward, they kept immensely clam and continued their mesmeric 1-2’s with Stefan, Abdul and Andrei.


Final scores

With the final whistle, the team had no idea what to do with themselves! They showed great sportsmanship, and its doesn’t give me any pleasure to report that QPCS let themselves down at this point.

A shout-out to Shyan, who I am presuming is the first girl to win the Brent Boys’ Football Cup – what a personal accolade!

We also had great support from our Year 8 parents today, many of whom came to watch, and a special mention to Rudra’s dad, who dropped Rudra to the stadium when I realised our bus capacity was no longer 15 children!


  • Final score: Ark Academy 4 QPCS 1
  • Goal scorers: Stefan Paun (x2); Andrei Paun (1); Bilal Saleem (1)
  • Man of the Match: Bilal Saleem