It’s a major boost for sports tourism in the island.
That’s the 2016 Banks Barbados International Masters Football Festival which kicks off tomorrow with 32 local and regional teams seeking to dethrone the reigning champions Wildey Masters.
During a media conference held this morning at the Sporting Pig Bar in Dover, Christ Church, chairman of the Festival Organizing Committee, Paul “Starsky” Wright said the tournament should bring together some 1100 players and at the same time he was hopeful of more than 4000 spectators attending, compared to the approximately 3000 persons last year who viewed the over-40s tournament. This year there will be the inaugural over-50s component to the programme. This is the 20th year overall for the prestigious event.
Twenty-two overseas teams will be in action and 15 of those are from within the region while the other seven are international line-ups. The games will be played over the next three days at four venues inclusive of Wanderers, Dover, Carlton and the Kick Start Football Club, formerly the Barclays Sports Club ground.
Among some of the locally based teams playing in this year’s competition will be Bayland, Wanderers 1877, Brittons Hill, Eden Stars, Paradise, Benfica, Empire and Gall Hill Legends.
Marketing manager for sponsors Scotiabank, Amanda Lynch-Foster, said they had more than a passing interest in the financial side of things. She noted it was a significant event and that the Masters Football Festival was really a model of authentic sports tourism that really worked and brought hundreds of visitors to Barbados every year.
“Scotiabank is immensely pleased to support the international Banks Masters Football Festival once more. We have come on board for several reasons. Scotiabank has always been involved with community events; from the NIFCA Dance finals to the Junior Calypso Monarch contest, Kiddies Cricket and so on,” Lynch-Foster attested.
She noted that the presence of the teams in Barbados meant spending and the stimulation of the local economy and that was something which was very important to Scotiabank.
Meanwhile category manager for Banks, Charles Walcott, said his company was proud also to sponsor the event and would remain committed to helping the tournament grow bigger and better every year.
“We have been able to cement this partnership so well in advance as the tournament embodies and truly represents all that Banks Breweries stands for – excitement, fun and an overall good time. The other reasons we are honoured to have our brand associated with this event is because it attracts individuals of all walks of life,” Walcott said.
A few of the teams were present during today’s media briefing and Cliff Williamson, representing the Rebels out of the United Kingdom, noted that they travelled around the world to play football whenever they could and the Barbados Masters Festival was the best one in which they had participated.
The finals are set for May 15 starting with the over-50s grand final at 2 p.m., then the plate final at 3:15 p.m. and the tournament final at 4:30 p.m.