Guyana gears up to host C/bean Guinness Street Football Challenge
By Rawle Welch
Describing the moment as a proud one for Banks DIH and Guyana, Marketing Executive of the Beverage giants Carlton Joao was referring to the hosting of the inaugural Guinness Street Football Challenge Tournament which will be competed among six Caribbean territories here in Guyana from June 21-23, at the National Park.
Joao, who’s Company, has been instrumental in conceptualising the model was speaking at the launching of the Tournament which was conducted in the Boardroom of Banks DIH Head Office at Thirst Park yesterday.
Also in attendance were Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Guinness Brand Manager Lee Baptiste, Outdoor Events Manager for the Company Mortimer Stewart, Public Relations Officer Troy Peters, Georgetown Football Association President Maj. Vernon Burnett, Co-ordinators of the Tournament Troy Mendonca and Marlan Cole and most importantly the members of the Team Guyana and defending champions of the Georgetown segment of last year’s competition Back Circle.
The format of the sport which was borne in 2008 through the efforts of Mendonca and Cole was the first time that the concept was seen anywhere in an organised manner and this alone according to Joao must be applauded, adding that it has now been adopted in many countries across the Caribbean and further afield.
“This Project has been by the Company (Guinness International) and has now been exported throughout the Caribbean,” Joao reported.
Joao said the countries that will be participating in the inaugural tournament apart from Guyana are Haiti, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada.
The Marketing Executive revealed that the winning country will have in addition to the monetary first prize, an area within their country a fully constructed facility to play the format, while the team will be equipped with sports kits.
“It is a professionally designed tournament where all the teams will be fully decked out in national colours and the arena fully branded,” Joao disclosed.
Joao further revealed that T&T and Stoke City international Kenwayne Jones will be present in the country during the period of the tournament where he is expected to interact with the teams and fans as the Brand Ambassador.
The total prize money is in excess of US$9,000 inclusive of trophies and other related rewards.
The winner walks away with US$4,000, runner-up- US$2,000, 3rd place- US$1,500 and 4th place- US$1,000.
The Guyana team will be outfitted by Banks DIH and will have the luxury of participating in a specially arranged warm-up tournament which commences on Sunday, at the Albouystown Basketball Court.
Dr. Anthony, who it was reported was very supportive from the start in his remarks, said he was extremely pleased to hear that Banks DIH will be hosting the inaugural event in Guyana.
He spoke of those who attempted to dissuade him from attending the tournament when it was launched some years ago, pointing to the danger it posed for him to be present in certain communities.
“When it started there were those who tried to discourage me from attending matches in certain communities, but I refused to heed to their call and I want to say here today that I have no regrets in endorsing the event which as everyone has seen has raised beyond all expectations,” Dr. Anthony said.
He stated that all along they always believed that the model was a good one for the rest of the Caribbean to emulate and expressed happiness that Guinness has found it practicable to embrace it.
“It is a success story, we have pioneered it and it is good that others have embraced it and it is really marvellous that we are giving it to the rest of the Caribbean,” the Minister mentioned.
He spoke of it working as a catalyst to stimulate other communities to strive to be winners so that they now could earn the right to represent Guyana in the next competition.
“What we see here is ordinary guys getting an opportunity to do something positive for their community and country,” Dr. Anthony said.
Mendonca, one of the initial co-ordinators of the tournament gave an overview of the two tournaments and urged fans to come out and support them.