Arriving at University almost three years ago, I found myself in a situation that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. I’ve loved playing sport, football particularly, for as long as I can remember and I was certainly going to pursue this love at Uni. However, my love of football didn’t stretch as far as wanting to join a highly-competitive University team. My fitness, as well as my technical ability, certainly wasn’t what it used to be and on the whole I was more interested in playing football for fun rather than for the chance of winning a trophy and or promotion at the end of the season. Thankfully, at University I found myself in the company of like-minded people who wanted to play football without the overriding pressure of having to get three points every weekend. In the following weeks spent kicking balls around on Southsea common it became clear that a hunger for competition remained, not only within myself but also within my halls mates, some of whom had not played competitively for years. The talent was there and all signs pointed towards the creation of a formidable side. What follows can only be described as the most inspiring and athletically impeccable account of what is undoubtedly the greatest sporting story in the history of the University of Portsmouth. This is the Tekkerslovakia story.
Having established that we wanted to make a team, the first two jobs were to create a pun-based team name to match the desire and ambition of the squad and to find a league suitable to cater for our elite playing standards. Firstly, it was the result of the tried and tested Facebook poll that gifted our team with its menacing and empowering identity. Next, it was a simple Google search that put our Manager, Charlie Beesley, in contact with Campus Sport. Campus Sport is an initiative designed to increase sports participation amongst both staff and students at the University. The programme caters for a variety of sports such as Dodgeball, Squash, and Tennis but for football specifically, offers 5, 6, 7, and 11-a-side leagues as well as Futsal opportunities. Although there is certainly room for improvement, the leagues are generally well organised and the quality of officiating is of a relatively high standard. In addition, the cost of joining a league is very much affordable, especially if you split up the costs between yourself and your teammates. Given that our club was small in numbers at this infant stage, we elected to join one of the 7-a-side leagues. The Tekkerslovakia dream was beginning to become a reality.
Our 7-a-side career was a whirlwind of devastating lows and tremendous highs. Amongst the devastating lows lies the fact that we were unable to win a game or even score a single goal in the entirety of our debut season, a record that stains the history of this great club. Drastic change was required and the introduction of a prestigious club shirt as well as the immediate signing of course mate Ollie Brocklehurst soon put an end to our goal scoring drought and before long, the mighty Tekkerslovakia experienced the sweet taste of hard-fought victory for the very first time. The club enjoyed relative success in their second full season, with a collection of new goal scorers and a marked improvement in the overall chemistry of the side. Despite this, Tekkerslovakia were still unable to progress to the hallowed knockout stages, reserved only for the top few sides in each league. Would the club ever reach the upper echelon of Campus Sport or would Tekkerslovakia be forever confined to mediocrity? The second academic year would provide the answer to this burning question. Season one of the 2015/16 campaign proved to be the most successful to date in the clubs brief but impressive history. With a rejuvenated squad and fresh ambition, Tekkerslovakia were able to reach the knockout stage of the league for the first time, amassing a series of dominant displays in the process. Unfortunately, finals night ended in disappointment for Tekkerslovakia with two losses, resulting in a 4th place finish. Despite the heartache, this result showed the vast progression of the club since its foundation and the potential of this young squad moving forward. The second year was over, but the best was still yet to come.
Unlike the form of the side, one thing that has remained consistent throughout the history of Tekkerslovakia is its dedicated social media presence. The club is renowned for its use of Window’s Movie Maker in the production of highly professional material such as post and pre-match interviews, press conferences, and exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ player content. With the resulting publicity of the club gaining the attention of potential signings and with final year looming, the decision was made to expand the club to an 11-a-side team. Pre-season saw a complete re-brand of Tekkerslovakia with a new club crest and modernised kit complete with player names and revised squad numbers. A strict training regime focussing on the fitness of the squad was introduced in preparation for the upcoming season. Anticipation was building as the first fixture approached; players and fans alike were itching to get the new season underway. Finally, game day arrived and it was a truly magnificent sight to see the mighty Tekkerslovakia in action again, especially at this exciting time in the club’s history. However, our opposition on the day, Kens Kicken, had other ideas and ruined this historic event by not showing up, clearly terrified by the prospect of facing such a powerful side. The default 3-0 victory was accepted but the thirst for competition remained, a thirst that would be satisfied in the coming weeks. By the time this article is published Tekkerslovakia will have completed their first season in 11-a-side football, a remarkable achievement considering the humble beginnings of the club. I am a proud Tekkerslovakian and it has been an honour to play beside my teammates for the past three years.