DIRECTV, together with Japs Fried Chicken and North East Stars F.C. launched what is believed to be the most lucrative amateur football competition in Trinidad & Tobago. The competition will be by invitation only and will see many of the North East regional champions compete for a first prize of $25,000.
The tournament, DIRECTV North East Stars Champion of Champions Invitational Football Tournament, was launched on Wednesday 1st December at the Japs Fried Chicken head office in Sangre Grande.
At the launch, the 8 competing teams were drawn into two groups of four. Each team will play 3 matches and at the end of the 12 match group stages, the teams topping each group will move forward to the semi finals on Boxing Day, 27th December and the final on January 1st.
Matches are due to commence on Thursday 9th December at the Manzanilla Recreation Grounds.
The tournament was devised by Darryl Mahabir, owner of Japs Fried Chicken and President of DIRECTV North East Stars. "I am passionate about supporting local football and our communities" said Mahabir. "It is essential to the development of the professional league to support amateur football." Mahabir went on to explain why he was offering a cash prize. "These footballers do not play for money, but for the love of the game. They buy their own uniforms and equipment.
I believe in rewarding excellence, and this tournament will provide a cash prize unheard of in amateur football. These teams began the season playing for fun, and now find a real cash prize on offer to reward their season long endeavours. This is a unique tournament and we hope to see it becoming an annual event on the national football calendar."
Mahabir continued "It is essential to the development of DIRECTV North East Stars to build a bond between the club and our key stakeholders, the North East community and the local amateur teams, who we hope will provide us with a supply of talent who will one day wear the North East Stars, or even the National uniform. By playing in a tournament of this calibre, we hope to give these footballers exposure to a high profile, high stakes competition that will assist in their development"
North East Stars C.E.O. Brent Sancho said that there are less obvious benefits to the competing teams. "We are fortunate at North East Stars to benefit from the financial support of DIRECTV, Carib, Sports& Games, Toyota and Japs Fried Chicken.
These teams do not have such corporate support. We are hoping that businesses will step forward and offer some sponsorship to the teams competing for the Champion of Champions trophy. This is the biggest amateur tournament in Trinidad & Tobago and we hope the crowds will come out to support their local teams"
Stars Operations Director, Kevin Harrison said " We believe that Football in the Community can bring real benefits to the people in the North East Region. Aside from encouraging participation in sport, tournaments such as this bring real pride to the region.
We often hear that one of the causes in crime is lack of entertainment. We will be providing 14 matches over the next 24 days, which will all have local interest. There will be a bar at the matches and the final at Ojoe Rd will include live artists performing after the match."
The 8 invited teams have been selected to represent the cream of North East Regional football and will be keen to start 2011 with a $25,000 victory on New Years Day. Group A teams are Quash Trace Ball Players, Mayaro Spurs, G.Madrid & Valencia Lions Youth F.C. while Group B teams are Matura Utd, Express F.C., Slappers & Settlement Utd.
Double header match days are scheduled for the 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th and 21st December in Manzanilla. Semi Finals will take place on 27th December at Ojoe Rd Recreational Grounds, Sangre Grande. The New Years Day Final at Ojoe Road also aims to be the launch of the 2011 carnival season in the North East. "We will have a big name artist performing and aim to create a real party atmosphere" said Harrison.
Mr Quincy Luces, Sangre Grande Regional Councillor said at the launch "We are working with DIRECTV North East Stars to bring football to Sangre Grande and establish a premier facility to ensure football stays in Sangre Grande." He went on to say "Both venues will be prepared and ready for the tournament as it is important to bring back community football events to the region"
DIRECTV representative, Lindsay Boodoo said " We at DIRECTV recognise the importance of a prominent football team to a community. We congratulate North East Stars for giving this opportunity to minor league football teams to showcase their talent.
We are proud to support these initiatives. It is paramount to DIRECTV to forge a closer bond with communities." DIRECTV will be providing door prizes of free DIRECTV installation & 2 months free subscription at the semi final and final matches.
North East Events Coordinator, Khaty Martin-Jones added "This tournament will bring a lot of interest to the North East Region. It is part of a very busy period for the club where we are interacting with the community and supporting the Digicel Pro Leagues HOPE project.
We are having a Christmas extravaganza fun day, with free toys and goodie bags for children and there will be top artists performing live on Sunday 19thDecember, 2010. We will also be organising a food collection at the final day of our MaltaCarib coaching school on the 18th December.
Mahabir added "None of our work would be possible without the support of our sponsors. They are fully behind this clubs commitment to the people of Sangre Grande and the North East.
I urge people to reward that support by coming to the events and taking note of the offers available from DIRECTV and spending some money at the Carib bar! Our other sponsors, such as Toyota and Sports & Games will also be on hand to promote their products."