The Seniors World Cup is organised by the Seniors Football Association of Thailand and supported by the Thai FA. The inaugural tournament was played in 2006, following the devastating tsunami that had hit the country sixteen months earlier. It was part of the process to re-establish tourism, as well as bring additional football coaching to underprivileged children in the country.
It has now been played annually for thirteen years with different provinces in Thailand hosting it on each occasion. Against all odds, the Thailand team won the cup in 2009 in Udon Thani, however as the invitational tournament has gone from strength to strength, the majority of countries now feature exprofessionals and former internationals in their squads.
The England squad is comprised mainly of Professional Footballers’ Association members. Eight countries participated in this year’s event; they were Thailand, England, Scotland, Australia, Iran, USA, New Zealand and Taiwan. The youngest players permitted are 38 years old, but squads have seven players 44 – 49 years old and seven aged over 50. Matches were split between one of Asia’s premier sports complexes, True Arena and the Hua Hin Stadium at Kho Takiab.
The atmosphere in the stands was jovial, whereas on the pitch, things were much more competitive. The final was played between England and Scotland, with the Kiwi team adding plenty of atmosphere in the stands as they sang all match long. The English lads were victorious once more, making it three cups in a row; they comprehensively beat Scotland 4 – 0 in a hard-fought match.
Pictures – Patrick Jacobs