Kensington kickoff

Officials checking on franchise documentation. At top of table is tournament investor Mia Mottley.

Twelve teams will be vying for a $100 000 first prize when the LIME Pelican Football Challenge starts on September 9.

The tournament, launched yesterday at Kensington Oval, will run until the end of November and is expected to attract some of the island’s best and up-coming football talents. Yesterday a number of players were drafted into the various franchises and are expected soon to start a rigorous training regimen.

Last year the tournament met with overwhelming success and was warmly embraced by the football community with massive crowds attending the games at the National Stadium.

However, the games will be switched to Kensington Oval this year as the National Stadium is undergoing renovations.

One of the principal innovators and investors in the tournament, former Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley, noted that the move to the Oval would result in organisers incurring costs that would almost triple what had been expended last year for the National Stadium.

General secretary of the Barbados Football Association David Hinds gave the tournament the association’s blessing, noting that the obvious success of last year’s tournament was critical towards sponsors returning this year to invest in it again.

“The organisers of this tournament after year one, I believe, have seen the passion and the benefits physically and socially of this game, so much so that despite whatever challenges they may have had encountered this year and I know they were a few, fought hard through them and here we are today for round two,” Hinds said.

Hinds said that last year he was a little confused and somewhat disappointed when comments emanated from the public domain that the LIME Pelican and other larger out-of-season competitions would be the death of the BFA. He added there were some valid but

largely unfair comparisons made. “More money, yes, bigger giveaways, yes.

But a league and tournaments are far different for reasons which I will not get into [now] but despite all of that football was the focus, and we at the BFA supported and will support anything good for the sport,” he stressed.

Hinds urged the footballers to play to the best of their ability and to show respect for their opponents.

He added football was the greatest unifying sport in the world, 90 minutes of harmony on the field, and perhaps the only place one could see games between Egypt and Israel without tanks involved.LIME’s managing director Alex McDonald expressed his company’s satisfaction at last year’s tournament and hinted that prize money could be increased to $150 000 if the same level of discipline and fair play previously exhibited was demonstrated this year.

Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley praised the venture and said sport had to be seen as an industry in like manner to some of the other industries that existed in the island. He said he looked forward to the day when the tournament would spread to other regional territories. (WG)

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