On a typical sun-bathed summer Saturday in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Match Day 1 of Tiger Street Football kicked off the beverage brand’s first major international street football tournament.
Held on the public square just outside the Drama Theatre Centre on Chinggis Avenue, footsteps away from the very center of the capital, the event attracted waves of local citizens and football fans who decided to stay in the city for the short summer.
“It’s the first year we’re doing it,” said Lester Tan, the Executive Director of Mongolian Beverages Ltd.
“Obviously Mongolia is a cold country and football is a relatively new sport. Only in the last five years it’s gotten bigger.”
He also said that Mongolian players are still adapting themselves to typical street football playing.
“You can see it’s not futsal skills, but 11-a-side skills in a small cage,” Tan said.
Thirty-one local teams took to the oval-shaped Tiger Street Football Cage to compete for the national championship. Towards the end of the day, dashing through constant battles of street-wise skills and physicality, Continental, Od FC, Inter FC and Shildeg charged their way to the semifinals, which granted them a spot in the international event on Day 2.
After beating their respective opponents, Continental and Inter FC met in the final of the national event. Fabio Cannavaro, the ambassador of Tiger Street Football this year, witnessed Inter FC winning the game with an intensely narrow score of 7-6. They took home the US$3000 cash prize.
The first day of the tournament was also boosted by performances by DJ Zoloo, two fan-elected Tiger Cage Girls, a local hip-hop band named TATAR, a group of BMX stunt riders and a street-dance crew named Red Eggs. Amaraa, a famous local football TV host, even conducted Mexican waves among a few dozen spectators.
But it remained Cannavaro’s move to work the enthusiasm of the crowd up to its peak. “Fabio! Fabio!” was chanted among the audience as he presented the trophy to Inter FC.
The Spaniards of Spain and Manchester Futsal Club of England also visited the venue on Day 1. They will join in the Tiger Street Football Cage battles with Big 1 Sports 99 from Thailand and Touch & Go from Singapore on Day 2’s international event.