By Sean Devers
From the humble beginning of a $4,000 Banks DIH sponsored inaugural Kashif and Shanghai (K&S) football tournament in Linden in 1989 the K&S Organization yesterday announced that the winner of the 22nd annual competition alone will collect a pound of Gold worth $4 Million along with the championship trophy for their efforts.
The competition commences on December 10 with the Opening Ceremony at GCC Bourda before the first official match in the competition is played at the GFC ground Bourda on December 16.
The Semi-finals will be a ‘double-header’ at the Stadium on December 30 and the losing finalist receives $1Million on January 1. All finals before 2008 were played in Linden. The third placed team gets $500,000, $300,000 goes to the team in the fourth position and the player of the tournament wins a motor cycle.
The latest edition of the competition was officially launched at Duke’s Lodge in Kingston yesterday where it was disclosed that Caribbean United of Barbados and Caledonia AIA of Trinidad and Tobago were the two overseas teams among the 20 sides involved in Guyana’s biggest Football competition.
It was also disclosed that the ‘after Final concert’ on the tarmac of the Stadium on New Year’s night will feature Jamaican Jah Cure, while Ansa McAl, one of the competition’s premium sponsors have launched a Stag Beer crown promotion which will see a ground in the community of one of the local teams, receiving $3Million to develop the venue.
Ansa McAl, GT&T and DDL are among the competition’s main sponsors. Representatives from those entities were present yesterday along with Kashif Muhammad and Aubrey ‘Shanghai’ Major of the K&S Organization and Acting President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Franklin Wilson.
Muhammad said this year has been a special one for the K&S Organization since the National ‘Medal of Service’ Award has placed them in the National honours roll for their sustained and dedicated commitment to promoting Football in Guyana.
“I cannot conceal the pride we feel having been accorded that quality of recognition at the highest level. I feel that sense of pride not just for those of us who pioneered the tournament and guided it through all those years, but for every Footballer, every fan, every official, every institution associated with Football in Guyana. Through this award, our sport has been uplifted,” Muhammad told the media.
Muhammad said he believed the award is a tribute to the role the K&S Organization played in cementing relations between sport, particularly Football, and the business community in Guyana.
He said the Government of Guyana, GT&T, Ansa McAl, Mohamed’s Enterprise and Banks DIH, have stood out with their sponsorship support over the years.
In 1989 Muhammad and Major were witnessing a Boxing Day boxing card in Georgetown at a time when Lindeners had no major sporting event during Christmas.
Kashif from “Milerock Football Club” and ‘Shanghai’ from Eagles United organised a match between the two teams. Two other Linden teams (Botofago and Central Hikers Football Club) were included before Milerock beat Eagles 2-1 in the first final on January 1.
Muhammad said that 2011 has been a difficult year for Football at the local, Regional and International level.
“All of us have followed the events that have, in some sense, had a transforming effect on the local game. These are tough times. But we in the K&F Organization have grown up on tough times and what I want to promise you is that tough times don’t last.
“I want to ask all who love this great game to work together to steer the ship of football through these turbulent waters. As for the K&S Organization, I assure you that we stand ready to play our part in salvaging the ship of local Football,” Muhammad said.
The Co-Director of the K&S Organization said it is their obligation to raise standards and to demonstrate to all of Guyana that they are truly deserving of the National Award.
“We expect the Government of Guyana will be on board once again. As much as we are grateful for the official support that we have received, we believe that we have been fully deserving of that support,” Muhammad said.
Co-Director Major said that in addition to the two overseas teams, defending Champions Alpha United, Pele (the runner-up in the last two finals), Western Tigers, Topp XX, Milerock, Net Rockers, Amelia’s Ward United, BV Triumph, Victoria Kings, Buxton Stars, Den Amstel, Seawall United of Pouderoyen, NA United, Rosignol United, Mill Ballers (previously Liquid Gold of Bartica), Kuru Kururu Lions and Timehri Panthers are the teams involved.
It was disclosed that one more team from Georgetown will be named shortly while Gove HI-Tec and Winners Connection are the two teams on stand-by, in that order.
Wilson said the GFF was happy to be a part of yesterday’s launching and thanked the K&S Organization for providing consistent and quality Football.
The GFF Head said the tournament was doing well for Guyana and has strengthened the process of improving the national team by providing competitive exposure for the Footballers. “Their contribution has given rise to the group receiving a Medal of Service Award and speaks volumes for their work in Football,” Wilson told the gathering.
Wilson, at the helm of Guyana’s football due to FIFA’s 26-month ban on GFF President Colin Klass, said that there is no place for evil forces in local football and said that despite the challenges in football this year Guyana has been doing well on the field.
“Our Golden Jaguars are leading their group in their 2014 World Cup Qualifiers and face Trinidad and Tobago at Providence on Friday in a big game, while our national female under-17 team and their under-20 counterparts have both advanced to the second round in their qualifiers,” Wilson informed.
Wilson lauded the work of English based Faizul Khan in tracking down potential Guyana Footballers from overseas, adding that overseas based players like the Cort brothers, Ricky Shakes and Skipper Christopher Nurse adds potency to the National team.
“If we don’t work together as a team it will be difficult to reap success and we (GFF) will continue to adhere to all of FIFA’s rules. We cannot do everything on our own and will continue to partner with others as we strive for greater success,” Wilson said.
Wilson praised Ansa McAl for their community development initiative and said the prize money in the K&S Organization was very good and should inspire the players. He said that even as Guyana is doing well at the National level the GFF wants to see the level of the football product improve locally. He thanked the K&S Organization for helping to create an avenue for this to happen.
Maria Munroe of DDL, Royston Rajpaul of GT&T and Nigel Worrell and Darshanie Yussuf of Ansa McAl represented the sponsors and both Yussuf and Munroe expressed pleasure in being involved in the competition for the second time, while praising the organisers for their consistent high standards.
Munroe said fans can expect exciting Pepsi promotions where tickets will be given away while Yussuf said the Stag brand was tagged to the competition last year and is a way for Ansa McAl to ‘give back’ to their customers and help to expose local Football talent.
Worrell explained that fans can contribute to one Football ground getting $3 Million for its development if they place stage crowns in boxes that will be specially set up in areas that have teams in the competition.
“This is not just about sponsorship but also community contribution. You can buy your Stag Beer anywhere in Guyana and throw them in the promotion boxes in whichever area you want to get the funding. The community with the most crowns will receive the money which will be used to upgrade the Football ground in that area,” Worrell who laughingly told the audience $3 Million is equal to ¾ pounds of Gold, explained.
Aruwai Enterprise has donated the pound of Gold for the 2012 Champions who will join previous winners, inaugural champions Milrock, Eagles, Botofago, Central Hikers, Campton, Topp XX, Beacons, Doc’s Khewalas of T&T, Victoria Kings, Fruta Conquerors, Joe Public of T&T, Alpha United, Pele and Western Tigers on the list of title holders.
Topp XX, whose last of five titles were achieved when they beat Alpha United in the 2006 final, have the most championships.
Apart from the Stadium, GCC, GFC, Uitvlugt, BV Triumph, MSC Linden, and Blairmont (on Christmas Day) will host matches.
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