Any right thinking soccer fan, especially those who’ve had the privilege to witness some of the matches in this year’s Digicel Schools Football Tournament would have to agree that the interest being generated among communities and the positive integration of the ethnic races is good for national mixing and harmony.
Kaieteur Sport was afforded the opportunity to cover some of the games at various locations across the country, including those that were once secluded from the curious eyes of mainstream society.
However, that was before the Digicel Nationwide Football Competition came to fruition and presently more and more communities that were deemed isolated previously are now finding themselves being showcased in the national newspapers and television like never before, offering an insight into their culture, geography and general lifestyle.
The Tournament over the past three years have evolved into Guyana’s own mini World Cup with an average of 130 schools participating in the month long activity that crisscrosses the length and breadth of this beautiful land.
Recently, the community of St. Cuthbert Mission, located in Region 4 and a neighbourhood that is dominated by the indigenous people, even though there is physical evidence of other races, hosted one of the games that featured their school (St. Cuthbert Mission Secondary) against debutant Achievers Academy and the outpouring of support from the community for its sons was nothing short of inspirational, while the hospitality was second to none.
Regarded as being somewhat isolated, the residents were welcoming and every visitor was made to feel at home and while many feel that the Tournament is just about on-field activities and achievements, it must be made known that there are quite a few other dimensions to the whole event.
Speaking with three senior members of the community, including Toshao Luke Simon, he told this newspaper that what Digicel has done is great for the Mission.
“Today is a great day for this community and the sport. Sport is one of the most wonderful events that bring people together, it brings communities together and it can carry you a far way,” Simon said.
He added that what Digicel has done is a great initiative and proceeded to commend them for it shortly before welcoming the visiting team and other visitors.
Ridley Ferreira, another member of the Mission in his remarks said the game is an important one for the community, adding that is a real boost, especially since cricket and volleyball are the two principal sports that are played there.
“The fact that such an established Company as Digicel could see the need to bring a match here must receive commendation from us and one of the benefits from doing so is that it will ignite interest in football within the Mission from now on,” he stated.
He urged the Company to continue to bring more games to the community and called on them to support the other sports that are played there.
Ernest Dundas, who also hails from the community, said the staging of the game there is quite an encouragement to him and the rest of the Mission.
He added that it will raise awareness of the importance of sports within the community and commended Digicel for including them in its plans.
The Company after reviewing the reports of the inaugural competition decided to add a few other components to enhance the quality of the tournament in terms of standard and also to assist in helping to eradicate a number of social ills through the insertion of professional personnel to lecture on the dangers of deviant behaviour among the participants.
Many times some of the additional benefits of hosting the competition would go unnoticed, but an analysis of the importance of the tournament would show the intrinsic worth of what the Company is trying to do.
Everywhere you go, residents, football fans, coaches, teachers and sports administrators would chant praises on the Company for its vision to host such an event, while also recognising its importance within the respective communities.
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