Dear Mr Editor,
In 1990, approximately 24 years ago Greg Charles (Kashif Muhammad) and Aubrey ‘Shanghai’ Major came up with an innovative idea to fill a void that was evident in the mining town of Linden.
Every Boxing Day in Georgetown, there was Professional Boxing at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall where the likes of Brian Muller, Winfield Braithwaite, Michael Reid, Mark Harris, Reginald Forde, Patrick Forde, Lennox Blackmore, just to name a few entertained Guyanese to top class boxing. Because Linden was starved for entertainment these two gentlemen decided to run off football in their community.
They were both supporters of clubs, Major was Eagles FC and Charles was Milerock FC. They decided to have football played during the Christmas Period. So they agreed to involve two other teams and they were both matched against their teams on Boxing Day with the two winners meeting in the finals on New Year’s Day. Can’t say how it happened but Milerock and Eagles both emerged victorious hence they met in the Finals and with that was the birth of the Greatest Show in these parts, Guyana, the Kashif & Shanghai Xmas Football Tournament. The period was reserved for the Annual K & S Tournament and it was an unwritten rule that was accepted by all with no reservation.
As the years grew the teams also grew, supporters, sponsors, government all joined the band wagon. K & S become a household name. Overseas support became numerous, persons came home for this occasion, they came from Holland, USA, Canada, Trinidad, Suriname, Bahamas, London, Europe and even Africa and Asia. Overseas players were eager to be a part of this tournament; K & S was the envy of the Caribbean. Other more established football countries in the Caribbean were amazed with the type of support this organisation got, the crowd was superlative. They wanted to know how so many spectators attended these matches. The organizing was top notch. Foreign teams wanted to visit Guyana to play in the tournament even funding their own stay. The atmosphere was superb, grandeur and splendorous.
These two gentlemen received National Awards, they were featured in Magazines. They made Guyana become a household name. The Gold Medal Award was when they brought the Greatest Footballer to ever walk the earth to Guyana, the Great King Pele came to Guyana.
The Guyana Tourism Authority features the Kashif & Shanghai Tournament as the place to be for the Xmas period where well organised tournament with entertainment unmatchable. The level of football was very high and entertaining. This tournament was so well structured and attended that it out grew the MSC Gd, the organizers were reluctant to move but space was unavailable so they went to the National Stadium, this was the first time where no National Team was playing in any type of sport that the National Stadium was packed to capacity with 2 local football clubs competing against each other.
Another outstanding feature that prevailed with this tournament is the awesome and lucrative prizes that are distributed by the K & S Organisation. Persons won car, motor cycle, pedal cycle and even an pound of Gold. Gone are the days where outstanding performance is rewarded with trophies and medals only that is being offered once again by the other stakeholders.
The standard of play was very high with the best teams in Guyana competing with allowance given for Guest Players to strengthen their team with what they already had. Every conceivable Guyanese knew of the Kashif & Shanghai Tournament, the old, the young, the differently able, the incarcerated, you name them and they knew. The tournament was discussed in all corridors.
But the inevitable happened, people got jealous and greedy. There were rumors that the K & S Organisation made millions for themselves but that was far from the fact. Preparing for a tournament of such magnitude takes almost an entire year to plan and prepare. It takes up lots of time and time is money. Football is a business and at the end of the day many will benefit. The teams and players receive large prize money and expensive gifts, the community benefit, small businesses flourish, the mini bus and taxis benefits, the food and clothing vendors benefit, the playing venues benefit, the bars benefit, the medical personnel benefit, the referees benefit, the gate men and ticket sellers benefit, the sponsors gain considerable benefit, the hotels benefit, the speed boat operators benefit, the plantain chip man benefit, the hot dog girl benefit and the list goes on and on.
Guyana’s Football was the biggest beneficiary. The football standard was higher than usual and more competitive. Players were given the opportunity to travel overseas and play professionally; links were made in the outer football world. Eventually Guyana was able to qualify for the Semi Final of the 2014 World Cup Qualifier playing with the likes of Mexico, Costa Rico, & El Salvador.
Guyana was eventually ranked in Nov 2010 at 86 in the World at the end of 2011 we were 91, at the end of 2012 we were 124 and at the end of 2013 we were 150 we are now 152.
Enter some unscrupulous persons who are trying to railroad the process by organizing mediocre tournaments with the pretext that the money will be going to the club. The GFA is in the red by 23 million dollars and persons are boasting that they made hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves and clubs and players are owed. Never in the History of the K & S Organisation has such negative publicity happened.
The GFF should take a grip of the situation and ensure for the sake of football development and accountability ensure that the K & S Organisation be given back that slot to reignite the passion for football which is in a comatose state.
I will continue to write until those bent on destroying historical events that contributed to sports tourism that assist in some measure with the growth of the economy and the growth and development of the sport here that help propelled the Golden Jaguars to its historical achievement in World Football.
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