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12 Things That Made 'Mini World Cups' So Special As A Youngster In Ireland

12 Things That Made 'Mini World Cups' So Special As A Youngster In Ireland
By Mikey Traynor
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Mini-World Cups were absolutely brilliant.

As a kid, I played for Cabinteely FC in Dublin and would eagerly anticipate the end of the season so that I could compete in the infamous Cabinteely FC Mini World Cup.

Children typically of ages 6-12 could register and be randomly assigned to a country to take part in a group stage and knockout tournament that was always a ridiculous amount of fun.

It was more relaxed than your usual weekend match, and the summer nights where you would play two or three games in an evening remain some of my fondest memories to this day. In particular the U11 season, when I played in goal for an Italy side that was cruelly beaten on penalties in the final, stands out as a moment from my sporting childhood that I'll always look back on fondly.

That's why I decided to compile this list of thing things that made, and still make, Mini World Cups so special.

Adopting a new country

You don't pick your country in a mini World Cup, it is assigned to you, and thus your love affair with your newly adopted nation begins. Typically all you needed to do was wear the right colour t-shirt, but I have a friend who still hangs a Togo flag in his bedroom to this day as a nod to a country he was assigned as a lad.


Parents getting far too into it.

Granted this is a part of all aspects of youth football, but hearing your parents roar "COME ON JAPAN!" from the sidelines along with the obligatory "ON YOUR BIKE!" always gave the occasion something special.

Looking forward to the big match all day long.

Typically mini World Cup matches were held on weekday nights, and as it was summer time, you had nothing else to do but change into your kit at 9am and head out into the garden and pretend you're scoring the winning goal. Suddenly it's 6.30pm and it's time to leave for the stadium (big field).


Getting put on a team with your friend.

The ultimate thrill after being assigned to a country was checking the names on the list and seeing if you knew anyone. If a regular team mate or friend from school was on your team, you were now best friends. If you were already best friends? Now the only thing you talk about is the mini World Cup.

That one kid who absolutely carried your team.


Every team had that one kid who developed a little bit quicker than the rest and could score from kick-ins. You loved this guy, because he was the reason you got to the latter stages of the tournament.


The sheer drama of a match going to a penalty shootout.

When you're 8, 9, or 10, you've seen penalty shootouts on TV, but you've probably never participated in one. You're not fully sure what you're supposed to do, but you know that everyone is watching. Terrifying, but if you slotted that pen home you were an absolute God.

All the 'Cadet' you could drink.


Nothing says 'Irish childhood' like a bottle of Cadet. Bought in bulk, every kid got one. Expect the kids who aren't allowed fizzy drinks of course. Poor souls.

Telling everyone who would listen about your World Cup adventure.

You cared so much about the mini World Cup, that everybody must know that you made the last 8, even the postman, sure he'll be looking for an autograph when you win it all and sign for Man United.

Putting yourself in the shop window.


You may not be signing for Man United after a mini World Cup, but if you played well over the summer you were reserving yourself a place in the A squad for next season. This was a great way for the coaches to get a look at how the kids were getting on, you just didn't realise that at the time.

Scouting other teams before your next match.

Coaches weren't the only ones doing the scouting. Typically the 'blitz' nature of the mini World Cup meant waiting for a match to finish before playing your game, so this was an opportunity to identify the dangers of your potential opponent.

Playing in front of a crowd with something on the line.

As so many kids were there, so were their parents, and the pitch became the center of attention as everyone waited for their match. This resulted in bigger crowds than you were used to, and a nice applause for every goal which made you want to run off celebrating like Pippo Inzaghi.


The awards ceremony.

Getting that cheap, crappy medal from the pound shop placed around your neck was the proudest moment of your young life, and if you managed to claim an individual award, even the consolation prize that was "most improved player" you felt like you'd just won the Ballon D'Or.

Thankfully, Mini World Cups are still very much a thing, and they always happen at around this time, so if you have son/daughter/niece/nephew of the appropriate age, whether they are in to football or not, have a chat with them about getting involved. Contact your local club and see if they are running a tournament, and if not, they will surely know the closest one to you.

Lets keep the tradition of Mini World Cups alive.

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