About 750 footballers and officials from Barbados’ 30 constituencies will over the next two and a half months be involved in the $600, 000 David Thompson Memorial Constituency Council Football Classic across the island.
At the launch this morning at the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, at Warrens, St. Michael, Minister Steve Blackett told a media briefing that more focus had been placed on the development aspect of the football tournament this year.
He explained that each of the constituency councils had been asked to identify an area of need in their community and have their players make a contribution to meeting that need, inclusive of holding soccer clinics for youngsters and community beautification projects.
Blackett noted it was becoming quite apparent that Barbados would soon be ripe for a semi-professional league. He said many of the out-of-season tournaments provided the atmosphere where such an idea could be advanced.
“This is the direction that we must go if we are to take sports seriously and if sports are to be allowed to play that transformative role that they have played in the lives of many, as evidenced in what happens with our neighbours in Latin and South America,” he said.
As to his ministry’s involvement in the sporting initiative, which is in its second year, Blackett explained that many people associated sports in Barbados merely with physical activity but he suggested that sports had always been multi- dimensional.
“There is a business element to sports that is critical in many countries to the survival of communities and in others, critical to the survival of the country itself. The Constituency Councils have shown their commitment to entrepreneurial development and this tournament serves only to reinforce that commitment by giving small business people a chance to sell their wares and increase their incomes,” he said.
Blackett added: “The talents that are unearthed via a tournament like this can take unknown individuals, who in the past were not recognised and showcase them on the national stage. It can also give recognition to communities that have had little to feel good about, and who are the victims of stigma that they oftentimes do not deserve.”
He said that for the tournament each council chose representatives from among themselves to serve on the teams as players, coach, medic and manager. He assured that his ministry had no role in the selection process.
Blackett addressed the positive effect which the tournament had on communities last year and the exemplary behaviour of participants and fans and stated he expected the same to obtain this year.
The tournament starts on September 30 at Gall Hill, St John with an opening ceremony followed by two games and continues on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at approximately 30 venues across the island. The competition ends with the final at Kensington Oval on December 14. All games are free to the public.
Blackett revealed that players would receive a “small performance fee” at the various rounds. He also said the top four teams would be rewarded with prize money of $30, 000 for first place, $20, 000 for second place, $15, 000 for third position and $10, 000 for fourth spot.
“It is our hope that next year we will have even greater
partnerships with the private sector to make these prices bigger and better for all the players and the teams,” he said.
Blackett said that each Constituency Council had been asked to contribute $20, 000 from their annual allocations to go towards the financing of the tournament
Cranston Browne of the tournament’s planning committee revealed that the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation was one of the “major” sponsors of the tournament but he did not go into specifics.
Fellow committee member and organiser Bob Forde explained that each team would have 22 players and three officials. He added that planners had taken into consideration the number of football teams in respective communities in coming up with the best possible strategy to spread the player pool and give opportunities to a greater number of footballers.
Forde also revealed that while last year performance fees stood at $94, 000, this year that figure would increase to $117, 000. He indicated that there would be six zones with five teams per zone.
During the briefing the teams were zoned and these are: Zone 1 – St. Lucy, St. Michael South, St. Michael West Central, Christ Church West Central, St. George North; Zone 2 – St. Joseph, St. Michael West, The City, Christ Church East Central, St. Michael East; Zone 3 – St. Michael South East, St. Michael North East, St. Philip North, Christ Church South, St. James South; Zone 4 – St. Thomas, St. Michael Central, St. Philip West, Christ Church East, St. James Central; Zone 5 – St. Peter, St. Michael North West, St. Philip South, St. Michael North, St. James North; Zone 6 – St. Andrew, St. Michael South Central, St. John, Christ Church West, St. George South.
The opening matches will feature The City versus St Joseph at 6 p.m. and St John against St Andrew at 8 p.m. (WG)