THE Marchand Football League (MFL) in collaboration with Castries East Parliamentary representative, Philip J. Pierre officially launched their 2020 football season this past Thursday evening (October 1st) with a press briefing held at the Marchand Community Centre.
The evening session which commenced with a prayer by MFL President – Christopher Clarke – also saw in attendance the Parliamentary representative for Castries East, Philip J.Pierre, Vice President, Kelvin Antoine; Secretary, Christopher Duncan; representatives from the participating football clubs and members of the media.
The 22nd edition of the tournament kicks off on Monday 5th October with four exciting matches at the Marchand Grounds starting from 2.00 p.m.
Eight teams will compete for the championship trophy, gold medals and $3000.00. The losing finalist will take home the second place trophy, silver medals and $1500.00, while the third and fourth place finishers will collect $1000.00 and $500.00 respectively. There will be individual prizes as well.
B1 FC will lead the charge in Group A alongside them will be Flames Veterans; Marchand Veterans and B1 Youth. Defending champions, Big Players FC will be coming out blazing on all cylinders in Group A, but will have to past through a determine Pavee FC team; Flames Youth and Big Players Youth.
B1 FC and Big Players FC are the two seeded teams because they are MFL representative teams in the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc senior national competition.
Phillip J. Pierre who address the gathering thanked the MFL for inviting him to the official launch and feels honoured and privileged.
Pierre said, “I never realized that this tournament actually started so long ago, it means I am advancing in age. We started in 1998, when I became the Parliamentary representative for Castries East. We started with sponsorship from Virgin Atlantic (VA), and we hope at some time we would be able to get back to VA, I guess that is impossible now”.
He added, “We have persevered, and we have continued and have been able to launch it in 2020 in the time of Covid -19, I feel very happy that we can do it’.
“I want to urge you that football can be a means of livelihood for people. If you listen to the story of most of the football stars they came from areas similar to ours, many of them, they were not born with golden spoons, they were not born in rich neighbourhoods they came from neighbourhoods that people normally bring down, but what they survived with was their discipline, patience and principals. So I want all the players participating in this tournament to be disciplined, patient and to be committed to the cause of football.
Pierre took the time out to congratulate the MFL for their organization and for ensuring that football remain alive and kicking in Marchand with its up and downs.
He said, “I hope the next time we have a tournament of that nature the Marchand Grounds will be further improved, the Labour government spent some money on that facility before, but there is still work to be done and I really hope the opportunity will come when we can improved the Marchand Grounds particularly the stands and the changing rooms that are presently damaged, they will be repaired”.
Pierre continued, “I want to urge you to have a very good tournament and may the best team win. Also may the people of Marchand take part. I hope the spectators will come out to support their respective community team and have some good clean talented fun on match days”.
In terms of the format for the tournament President for the MFL, Christopher Clarke said, “The tournament will start on Monday 5th and will run up until the ending of November. We should play 20 games in total. We will have a first round in the format of a round robin; likewise the second round. The top team coming out of that second round of the round robin will win a spot in the finals, the fourth team will be eliminated and the second and third placed will play a play off to join the first team in the final.
On the question of officiating: Clarke said, “The quality of officiating is expected to be at a very high standard, we have allocated Monday’s and Friday’s because that is outside any other tournament currently ongoing in Saint Lucia, we will have a full slate of football officials at our disposal”
After 22 years MFL will extend invitations to outside teams in Castries and Gros Islet Leagues in the future: Clarke said, “Definitely, discussions have been held where you will see more collaboration between the leagues in the northern zone of the SLFA where a lot of our tournaments are going to be joint and thus across the five leagues, it is something we can look forward to, more unified tournaments under one umbrella and more invitational across the leagues”
With FIFA contribution of $500,000.00 towards the development of women’s football in Saint Lucia, will there sometime soon be seen a women competition alongside the men aspect of the sport in this tournament?
Secretary for the MFL, Christopher Duncan who replied to the above question said, “As of this tournament we are going to have an exhibition match for the women. We have a technical team currently working with the women’s team. So come 2021 when this tournament comes around its not going to be exhibition, but something bigger”.
MFL to observe the passing of two fallen soldiers on Monday: According to Clarke, “The year has been a very difficult one for the MFL; we lost Cassius Glasgow and “Franco”. As we try to recover from one we had the loss of another. So we are back to square one. Both have been recipients of awards for the sterling contributions that they made to football within the community. It is coming we are going to continue to do in respect to persons who have contributed towards this tournament”.
Clarke disclosed, “There is a plan to have a memorial tournament in honour of Cassius Glasgow who was one of the most successful youth coaches on the island having won several youth tournament under his watch. The football enthusiasts can look out for a new and exciting tournaments something we have not seen on our shores. We have commitment from various individuals and the technical committee is working very hard on it. It will be a spectacle.”