When word got around that Assal and Rudoni were to face off at the training ground recently it was bound to grab the fans’ attention.
However, even though the contest didn’t feature either of our top talents, there was still an impressive turn out for two teams of young Dons. They battled it out in the inaugural final of The Dons Cup for the newly named Mark Robinson Trophy.
Robbo, who not only did so much for the development of both players but also our Academy, was invited back to present a talented crop with the honours after “Team Assal” (pictured) emerged victorious from a dramatic penalty shootout.
“It’s all about the player,” said Lead Foundation Phase Nicholas Wright, the brainchild behind The Dons Cup. “It’s all about what the player gets from it. Even though it’s a tournament, how can we then remove fear, how can we then make players feel better and want to be a Don?
“It’s a tournament for all the boys signed up from the under 9s all the way through to the under 12s. The teams get mixed up and they represent players who have come through the Academy and now play for the first team. They would play every six weeks during the season, six games per team and once they’d done all the group stages, we then held the play-offs at the training ground to decide the eventual winners.
“It’s quite interesting, Robbo and I were talking about it. The Ayoub Assal and Jack Rudoni teams got to the final, so those representing the two most prominent players for the first team this season from the Academy made the final of the first Dons Cup!”
“Nick invited me down,” said Robbo. “He talked to me about it earlier in the season. He said he had this idea that he was going to run throughout the season. It was lovely to come down and see and the football was brilliant. I was saying to some of the parents that it just looked like lads having fun, which is so important, but there’s so much Nick is going to get out of it with the lads. It was a privilege and an honour to have the trophy named after me, which is a lovely gesture.”
“I was very pleased with the outcome,” said Nicholas. “I couldn’t have asked for more when I dreamt it up. I’ve also got to thank all my staff for making it come to life, I couldn’t have done it without them. As it grew, it just kind of snowballed.
“How it ended, with that crescendo of a penalty shootout to decide it all, there was so much jubilation from the boys. How we grow it? It’s how ever we want to grow it! There’s so much we can do!”
Watch highlights and the full interview with Nicholas Wright from The Dons Cup event below, via the video link to our official YouTube channel.