By Owen Morgan
The first round proper of The DAIsolate Cup – Ammanford AFC’s FIFA tournament – threw up some intriguing ties and introduced a promising comedy double act from Lee Trundle and Dylan Ebenezer.
With all football suspended for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus crisis, the Welsh League One outfit decided to invite clubs from all over Wales to compete in a FIFA video game tournament.
A magnificent total of 128 entries – represented by individuals from their clubs – threw their names into the hat for the competition which will raise charity cash as well as the morale of football fans throughout the country.
And Tuesday night’s draw was certainly an occasion to raise the spirits with Swansea City legend Trundle and S4C’s Sgorio presenter “Ebzie” in charge of proceedings.
With the entire draw being live streamed on Youtube thanks to AGFX.tv, Ebenezer joked: “There’s 128 teams to draw. We’ll be out of lockdown by the end!”
One of the early ties to come out of the hat was a clash between one of Trundle’s former clubs, Haverfordwest, and the under-16 team from his current club, and tournament organisers, Ammanford.
With the Carmarthenshire club being drawn out of the hat first, Trundle said: “Ammanford will be pleased to have a home draw.”
With the tournament being played on consoles in the comfort of individual players’ own homes, Ebenezer pointed out: “Lee . . . they’ve all got home draws!”
As a Welsh language presenter, Ebzie made light work of pronouncing team names like “Y Clwb Pel Droed” and “Penrhiwceiber AFC”. Trundle, who was in charge of announcing the numbers, quipped: “I’m glad I wasn’t reading the names out on some of these!”
While the Trundle and Ebenezer double act made impressive inroads through the mammoth draw, there were some seriously intriguing match-ups arranged.
Local derbies are always an attractive feature of any draw and there are plenty of mouthwatering match-ups to look forward to.
Neighbours Briton Ferry Llansawel, represented by Jonathan Bush, will take on Sam Lewis, of Baglan Dragons, in a match which surely has to be dubbed The Battle of Briton Ferry Bridge.
Travel a little further west and there is the Gwendraeth Valley Derby between Drefach Under-12s Bailey Coles, who will play Tumble’s Trystan Leech. They’ll probably be able to wave at each other from their respective armchairs.
Likewise, Laleston’s Ben Hopkins and Coity’s Neil Evans would be breaching social distancing rulings if they were any closer together for the big Bridgend Derby.
There were also a couple of derbies involving north Wales clubs, including Bangor City’s Daniel Mangan playing Buckley Town’s Chris Hibbert.
One of the most intriguing match-ups is surely that between the exotically titled CSKA Sophia, represented by Steve Day, and everyone’s favourites, The Cymru League Referees! The men in the middle will have Jonathan Bryant playing for them.
Meanwhile, Mardy AFC, the Gwent Central League club, who donated more than £200 to Abergavenny Foodbank thanks to their players throwing their playing subs into the kitty, will be represented by Evan Musto as they take on Carmarthenshire League outfit Evans and Williams.
When Ebzie finally read out the final team to complete the 64 ties, in true FA Cup style, he suggested: “I’ll just go through the draw again,” before quickly adding: “No, I won’t!”
Proceeds from the tournament, which has raised £1,280 from entry fees alone, will be split between NHS Wales and the food bank of the winning player’s choice.
As well as Dai Sport donating £150 to become the tournament’s title sponsor, the All Wales Sport website donated cash prizes of £100 for the winner, £50 for the runner-up and £25 for the losing semi-finalists.
Cardiff-based men’s grooming company Mesoa offered a grooming package for the winner, while Riley Sports Photography donated a trophy and Picton Sports will be providing a commemorative t-shirt for the winner.
There is also a £25 Easter egg hamper form a Pontypridd hairdressing business.
Ammanford’s commercial and marketing manager Jason Pocock explained the thinking behind the competition.
“The reason we’ve done the tournament is to try and get people’s minds off things.
“I’d seen something similar on Twitter the day before with Leyton Orient and I think they’d had quite a few professional clubs sign up. So I thought ‘why not do it on a lower level?’.
“All our boys are going to be without football for at least a month, it’s probably going to be a lot longer.
“It was originally set up as something to pass the time and have a little bit of a morale boost for the clubs within our league, but the response has been absolutely amazing.
“We have been really shocked and pleased at the same time. You couldn’t ask for anything more really.”
All the first round matches must be completed by Thursday at 10pm. The pick of the ties will be streamed live on YouTube.
For the entire DAIsolate Cup draw and information on which matches will be streamed live, go to Ammanford AFC Twitter account – @AFCAmmanford