THE inaugural Gros Islet Football League (GIFL)/ Aurelien Soles Invitational Football Tournament for Under-18 players will kick off from 9.30 a.m. today at the Corinth playing field with the march past of teams and addresses by various stakeholders.
It must be noted that last year, the tournament was organized to accommodate under-16 players, this year the GIFL has decided to go up a notch to (U18).
The tournament, which is the brainchild of Alphonso Aurelien a resident of Grande Riviere, Gros Islet, but who resides in England will see nine teams from Gros Islet and its environs, Marchand, Castries Central, Babonneau and Roseau Valley compete in two groups with the group stage (round robin) of the tournament starting today and continuing on Sunday 5th, while the knockout stage (quarterfinal, semifinal and finals will be played on Saturday 11th.
The nine teams have been drawn in two groups; last year losing finalist Northern United heads Group A, also competing in that group are VSADC, Ti Valley, GMC United and Valley Soccer. Group B comprise defending champions Big Players FC, Reduit FC, New Generation FC and Pioneers FC.
During the launch of the tournament on Thursday 2nd August, GIFL President Shayne Paul said, “The Gros Islet Football League is delighted to have yet again the Aurelien Soles tournament which has been approved by the Saint Lucia Football Association”.
Falling on the heels of the GIFL annual development camp, the aim and objective is to give the players an avenue to develop their skills in that age category before they enter senior football thereafter.
In terms of discipline Paul said, “We stressed on discipline which is a key factor of our football; we are disappointed with what transpired in a football game at Windward Islands Schools Championship in Vieux Fort last weekend and under the GIFL banner we will leave no stone unturned as we are looking forward to improve on the level of discipline”.
The man behind the scene Alphonso Aurelien thanked the GIFL for welcoming him to the committee and be part of the organization.
“My family and I are very happy to be here to sponsor this tournament; it gives us a great pleasure to do so. We look forward for the weekend. I think it’s going to be a great one, all the kids are excited. The winning team for this year will received a brand new football kit. So there is a lot to play for”.
Charde Desir, 1st vice president of GIFL applauded Alphonso Aurelien and family for their kind gesture over the years. Desir said, in 2015 Aurelien sons, while holidaying in Saint Lucia, participated in one of the youth programmes in the north and after seeing a few players playing without footwear they decided to donate their boots to some players. The following year the family came back to Saint Lucia with a bag of football boots and sneakers for the players.
In 2017 the Aurelien family donated 400 pairs of sneakers, to all the clubs and also to include GMC United FC, the Babonneau, St. Joseph’s Convent, the Boys Training Centre and some members of the national football team.
According to Desir, come 2019, Aurelien has indicated that a new sponsor will come on board to assist GMC United and the Gros Islet Football League with all their football equipment and kit and like previous occasions, the various clubs will also benefit from the good gesture from the Aurelien family.
At Thursday’s press launch, Cassius Glasgow, Head Coach for Big Players FC, the 2017 U16 champions received a brand new football kit, while, Northern United and GIFL received football equipment and kit from Alphonso Aurelien.