The first ever Barbados Invitational Masters Football Classic Tournament was ushered in and described by organisers as an historic occasion during Wednesday’s night launch held at the Sandals Resort in Dover, Christ Church.
Under the chairmanship of Melvin ‘Ibo’ Oxley, first vice-chairman Trevor Thorne and second vice-chairman Julian Annel, 36 teams – seven overseas and 29 local – have confirmed participation for this year’s tournament which kicks off tonight at various venues across the island.
Split into two age group in the Over-40s and 50s, competition will be played at five venues across the island. They are Maxwell Sports Club, Empire Club, Carlton Club, Dover Club and Barbados Football Association’s Wildey AstroTurf for the final.
BIMFC is a replacement for the longstanding Barbados International Masters Football Festival which is no more.
Oxley, chairman of BIMFC, explained that his committee intended to continue the festive atmosphere of the tournament. He also said the competition would be played under the new rules implemented by FIFA.
“This tournament is the first in Barbados under the new rules of FIFA, and I suggest you all pull up some stuff and read up on it. If you rush up in Santa’s face (referee) that might be the last time you come on the field. I am not kidding. We are grown folks, you can disagree but respectfully because that’s a man you are talking to and he has children,” Oxley said.
Under the theme ‘All For The Love Of The Beautiful Game’ Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. representative Devon Chase said master’s football was one of the most anticipated events on the BTMI calendar.
According to Chase, the Barbados product was unique, continued to be well sought after and BTMI looked forward to give the organisers of BIMFC its support again in 2020.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the master’s football is probably the most anticipated event on the sporting calendar. And I could point to a number of activities that we host throughout the year, and I can’t think of another event such as this. When you think of camaraderie, competitive spirit, this event checks all those boxes.
“The Barbados product is certainly one that is unique. I think that we have something particularly special. We continue to be a well sought-after destination in terms of sports tourism. There are many teams I know we are having conversations with as we speak across many sporting disciplines. The likes of basketball, football… But why? Barbados is a destination people want to visit. It is more than just the sea, sun and sand and it is because of you that makes it the quality experience that it is, “ Chase said.
Sandals public relations manager and former BFA general secretary David Hinds encouraged football administrators in Barbados to embrace the masters who have paved the way for football in Barbados.
“The associations, I don’t think they come to you guys as much as they should. When you look at France winning the World Cup, Didier Deschamps, he called on Petit [Emmanuel], Zinedine Zidane, older people who would have won. They don’t have to be coaches but get them there for the youngsters and experience what it is to win a trophy.
“I urge the BFA to embrace the knowledge of Wayne Sobers, John ‘Nobby’ Parris, make them feel that they are a part. Guys who would have been in this same tournament, John Jon Straker and those guys,” Hinds said. Former national player and Barbados coach Keith ‘Grell’ Griffith encouraged the participants to show class and character and to play with cohesion, flare and panache.
BFA representative Barney Callender encouraged the organisers to get overseas teams up to 50 percent for next year’s tournament.
Callender explained that football was essential to the landscape of Barbados, and it was important the masters continue. Therefore, he assured the BFA would be throwing its support and commitment to the tournament.
“I want to put out a challenge to the organisers, its nineteen percent of overseas teams and I am quite sure we are going to get that number up to fifty percent next year.
“The BFA is going to support this tournament by affording the referees to participate and officiate in all the games. The BFA would be supporting this tournament by allowing this whole tournament to be played at the AstroTurf, “ Callender said. [email protected]