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Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited, the parent company of Flow and Columbus Business Solutions, has contributed $650,000 towards the staging of the British Airways Tobago Football Legends Challenge (BATFLC).

Besides Flow, the other sponsors of the Challenge are British Airways, TTFA, the British Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and Sky Sports.

As far as the football is concerned, 64 recently-retired footballing greats, including the “son of the soil” Dwight Yorke, will be participating in the six-a-side affair. 

Players confirmed to feature at the Challenge include Roberto Di Matteo, Gus Poyet, Patrick Berger, Vladimir Smicer, Robbie Fowler, Lauren and Luis Boa Morte.

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Columbus Communications (T&T Limited) is investing more the half a million dollars in the inaugural British Airways Legends Tobago Football Challenge scheduled to take place in Tobago in June.

Officials of the company, which operates the local cable provider Flow and Columbus Business Solutions, made the announcement at a media conference held at the Jaffa at the Oval on Tragarete Road in Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Brian Collins, managing director of Columbus Communications presented a cheque valued at $650,000 to Tracey Davidson-Celestine, secretary for Tourism and Transportation for the upcoming internationally recognised event.

Arsenal football legend Laureano Bisan-Etame Mayer and Sheldon Phillips, general secretary of the T&T Football Association witnessed the presentation.

As part of the Flow Legends Community Legacy Outreach, legends from eight teams comprising players from the English Premier League will be twinned with youth from communities throughout Tobago.

The Challenge promises to field teams from Manchester United, Aston Villa, Liverpool, Tottenham, Hotspur, Chelsea, Arsenal, Caribbean All-Stars and Professional Footballers Association (PFA) All Stars.

Davidson-Celestine described Columbus Communication’s decision to step in as a partner in the tournament as “a crucial element.” The programme, she said, was important because it ensured the communities would be an integral part of the tournament.

“It has the potential to unearth new talent, as we will have some of the biggest coaches coming to Tobago and there will be opportunities for gifted footballers to showcase their skills, so that in the future, we may have other legends like our very own Dwight Yorke.

The hosting of the tournament and the television production that will be shown on Skye sports in the United Kingdom provides the world with an opportunity to see the beautiful piece of real estate that we call home,” she said.

The secretary added, “It allows hundreds of people to come to Tobago and therefore provides guests for our hotels, guests houses and bed and breakfast and therefore put money into the hands of ordinary Tobagonians.

And, of course, the tournament will see teams being housed in communities so that you will be able to develop an affinity for the teams in your community and the competition will, in many ways, take on a uniquely Tobago appeal. This is about engaging and involving the community in the process. It also provides opportunities for the people of Tobago to show their entrepreneurial spirit and economically benefit from this tournament.”

Collins described the events of the week leading up to yesterday’s presentation as interesting.

Being a long time football fan, he knew Flow had to become involved citing the list of Legends slated to come to Tobago in June, were top notch players who he enjoyed seeing over the years.

“What made this week a landmark, however, was on Tuesday, we had the opportunity to launch the community portion of this event in Tobago at the Roxborough Secondary School, and I am now convinced that I made the right decision in coming on board as the title sponsor for this portion of the event, which will be called the Flow Legends Community Legacy Outreach.

The kids were excited beyond measure at the thought of seeing players from teams that they watch on television. They surrounded Laurean and when asked about their favourite club each had an opinion. I realise that this event will provide the kind of impact that we are looking for in our sustainability initiatives,” said Collins.