By Calvin Chapman
Tomorrow’s finale of the 2018 edition of the Guinness ‘Greatest of the Streets’ national playoffs, has been projected to be a grand affair according to the Organsing Committee of the tournament. And, with the expected large number of fans that will want to view the final showdown of the tournament that began November last year, the organisers and sponsors have opted to host the event at the spacious National Stadium, Providence, Tarmac.
During a press brief yesterday at Banks DIH’s Sports Club, Guinness Brand Manager, Lee Baptiste, posited that, “This tournament had humble beginnings in the streets of Tiger Bay and now it has grown so big that we have to host it at the Stadium shows how popular the community based tournament has become.”
There will be a total of 400 seats available for those patrons who may be desirous of being a bit more comfortable when viewing the games. Communications Manager of Banks DIH, Troy Peters, noted that, “We are expecting a huge turnout and as such we have taken parking into account. Patrons will be able to utilise the limited parking inside the Stadium for a small fee while there will be parking available at the loam ground just outside the Stadium as well.”
Peters further stated that, “With the exception of one zone, all other zones saw first time winners and that is testament to the improved competitiveness of the competition which was aimed at giving street ‘ballers’ a platform for development.”
Colours have been the only additional sponsor of the Banks DIH’s flagship tournament and representative of the popular clothing and footwear store, Samantha Thomas, explained that Colours have been onboard from day one and that they will continue to support the promotion through their usual provisions of balls and gears to teams.
Rawle Welch, one of the organisers of the event which will see a total prize payout of over $1million, said that they (the organisers and the fans) couldn’t have asked for better match ups, “Everyone loves the Linden versus Georgetown football rivalry and that is what we will have in the two semifinals before the final is decided. Former Champions Sparta Boss will clash with the reigning champions from Linden, Dave and Celina’s All-stars while 2018 Linden Zone Champs will play current Georgetown Zone holders, Gold is Money.”
Despite the prejudice the Guinness street football tournament has received by some, over 250 teams have played 184 games during the 2018 season so far and only one red along with three yellows cards have been issued, according to Referee Coordinator Wayne Griffith, which speaks volumes about the discipline of the teams.
When quizzed about the impact of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) protecting their players by barring them from participating in the tournament, Guinness Manager, Baptitse, explained that, “The Guinness street tournament was never designed for elite or club players but as organised football has been diminishing over time, those players have been drawn toward the Guinness in the street.”
In addition to the semifinal, third place and final matches, there will be two exhibition matches consisting of an all-female matchup and a mixed team encounter.
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