THE Saint Lucia Football Association 1st Division championship is scheduled to kick off tomorrow (Sunday 17th February) at two venues with a combined five exciting matches.
From 5.00 p.m. at the Phillip Marcellin Ground in Vieux Fort, TiRocher FC (Micoud) will play Northern United FC (Gros Islet); while in a Vieux Fort derby, defending champions Platinum FC takes on Knights FC at 7.00 p.m.
On the same day, at the Marchand Grounds from 3.00 p.m. El Ninos (Desruisseaux) takes on T Valley FC (South Castries); VSADC (Castries Central) plays Up Town (Vieux Fort) at 5.00 p.m.; while Monchy FC (Gros Islet) will fancy their chances against home team Big Players FC (Marchand) at 7.00 p.m.
Matches will continue next weekend (Sunday 24th), from 4.00 p.m. Monchy FC versus Knights FC and Platinum FC up against Northern United FC AT 6.00 P.M.; both matches will be played at the Gros Islet playing field.
Also on Sunday 24th from 4.00 p.m. VSADC takes on T Valley FC; at 6.00 p.m. El Ninos FC will come up against Big Players at the Marchand Ground; while at the Phillip Marcellin Ground, TiRocher FC plays Up Town at 6.00 p.m.
Ten teams have qualified and will play a round robin format after winning their respective district leagues, these teams include; TiRocher (Micoud), Northern United FC (Gros Islet), Platinum (Vieux Fort), Knights (Vieux Fort), El Ninos (Desruisseaux), Ti Valley (South Castries), VSADC ( Castries Central), Up Town (Vieux Fort), Big Players (Marchand) and Monchy (Gros Islet).
The winning team at the end of the tournament will take home EC$10,000.00, 2nd place EC $6000.00 and 3rd EC$4000.00. The SLFA will also contribute EC$25,000.00 towards the winning team’s participation in the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield in 2020.
Last year’s winner Platinum FC from Vieux Fort will compete in this year’s tournament; the competition for amateur Caribbean clubs is scheduled to take place April 5-15, 2019 at the ErgilioHato Stadium and Dr. Antoine Maduro Stadium, in Willemstad, Curacao.
Saint Lucia’s Platinum FC is placed in Group C – alongside Hoppers FC (Antigua) and Rams Village Superstars (Saint Kitts and Nevis).
The winner of the 2019 CONCACAF Caribbean Shield, provided it fulfills the Concacaf Regional Club Licensing criteria, will have the opportunity to face the fourth-place finisher of the 2019 Flow Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship in a playoff match to determine the fourth Caribbean representative in the 2019 Scotiabank CONCACAF League.
At a press conference held on Wednesday 13th February 2019, the Saint Lucia Football Association asked that persons turn out in large numbers to support their respective teams and have extended good luck to the 10 participating teams.
At Wednesday’s press conference, SLFA President, Lyndon Cooper said, “Today is nothing extraordinary, we are continuing to propel Saint Lucia football to higher heights and to ensure we could qualify for the next World Cup.”
“The year 2018 was also extraordinary for the SLFA in terms of performances on the playing field. Last year we had eight teams in the 1st Division, 2019 we have 10 teams competiting. The rationale behind increasing the pool is simple; World governing body, FIFA has restructured its programmes and is now financing its 211 members by virtue of its programmes and participation. It is now required of us (SLFA) and FIFA members to play at least 80 matches within a period of six months for age groups both male and female.” Cooper noted.
He continued, “While small countries like Saint Lucia may face the challenge when it comes to infrastructure and space, we still have the responsibility and obligation to meet those requirements or else there will be no funding associated with Saint Lucia programmes; we had to make the decision right away in 2019 that we are going to increase the 1st Division pool to 10 teams.”
Cooper said, “The 1st Divison remain a prerequisite of FIFA’s, you must have a Club competition under the principals of relegation and promotion. In 2018, the SLFA invested in excess of EC $125,000.00 in the Club Championship; 2019 you will see an additional investment of EC$100, 000, 00, so the SLFA is actually putting in excess of EC$200,000.00 in Club football.”