Dennery emerged champions of this year’s Blackheart Football Big 8 Tournament after beating Vieux Fort South 2-0 last week Sunday evening (September 4) at the Dennery Playing Field. They also won the EC$5,000.00 winner-take-all prize.
Sherman St. Rose opened the scoring for Dennery, leading the team into halftime with 1-0. An own goal by Vieux Fort South’s Kendal Clark gave Dennery their second goal, sealing the Boys from the South’s fate.
Speaking after the team’s championship win on Sunday evening, Dennery’s coach, Sabbatus Hunte, said the team is working really hard to capture the coveted Blackheart championship this year. Winning the Big 8 tournament, he said, was a major boost.
“Winning is a habit, so it’s always good to start off winning,” Hunte said. “Hopefully, we can take this into the tournament, with the momentum, and really give the community something to shout about. It’s been a long time and they deserve it.”
Hunte said he was impressed with the leadership displayed by some of the senior players: “More than any of the goals or anything, I was really impressed with the leadership they showed and the maturity…Hopefully, they can build on that and take it into the tournament.”
Hunte thanked the players, whom, he said, have been putting in the work and exhibiting a great attitude for the sport. He also thanked the staff who worked really hard and supported the players to give them that boost they needed, as well as the patrons.
“Of course, thanks to the community for coming out,” he said. “I mean, I know the Dennery community is a very tough community to please. They’ve been spoiled because Dennery has a rich football history. So it’s up to us to live up to that history because a lot of great players have gone before. So we have to live up to it. They’re demanding, but we have to meet that demand.”
Hunte stated that Dennery continues to produce great players at all levels – from grassroots to Under-19. He added that once players are good enough, they will be deemed old enough, and given a fair chance to play.
“So they should aspire to be part of the team,” Hunte advised. “Parents have to give the requisite support to the players so that they can grow. I mean, with all the social ills we’re seeing now, we need the support from the parents. The opportunities are there for the players who dedicate themselves to the sport, and the sport gives back what you give to it. So I would like to encourage them to keep coming out and keep developing and to aspire to be here one day and have the other youngsters cheer them on.”
Despite their loss to Dennery, Vieux Fort South’s coach, Jamil Henry, said he was impressed by the talent and courage displayed by his young team.
“It was a very intense game, a nice game. A game where you saw a lot of talent out there, especially with the back-to-back games we played and the players only got one hour to rest. The players were tired and the exhaustion showed, but for a very young team, I’m very proud of them,” Joseph explained.
Vieux Fort South are the defending champions of the Blackheart Tournament, having won the tournament when it was last held in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. A rash of violent crimes in Vieux Fort this year has forced tournament organizers to omit the Philip Marcellin Ground as a tournament venue for security reasons. However, Joseph believes organizers need to rethink their position, adding that the aim is to keep youngsters away from violence through sports.
“The Vieux Fort people are crying, they want football in Vieux Fort,” said Joseph. “Crime is everywhere on the island, and it’s a sad thing, but the organizers of Blackheart need to reconsider this. Blackheart starts October 1 and they have time to change their minds. Vieux Fort people want Blackheart in Vieux Fort.”
Joseph added: “We’ve won Blackheart four years in a row. If we’re the underdogs, then so be it, because that’s what we’ve always been. But we really want the organizers to think twice about having Blackheart out of Vieux Fort. They know that’s where they get all the support and the people really want Blackheart. The people will not come and watch football if it’s out of Vieux Fort. So something needs to happen.”
Earlier in the day on Sunday, two semifinal matches were held. In the first match-up, Dennery dismissed Desruisseaux 2-0 with goals from Kurt Frederick and Garvin Regis.
In the second semifinal, La Clery and Vieux Fort South were one goal apiece at the end of the second half. Shaquile Degazon scored for La Clery while Moses Henry scored for Vieux Fort South. Vieux South eventually won by 4-3 on penalty shootout.
In matches played on Saturday, September 3 at the same venue, La Clery defeated Marchand 3-0 in the first encounter. Goal scorers were Donavan Philip, Andrus Remy and Josh Harrow.
In the second match-up of the Big 8 tournament held at Dennery Playing Field on Saturday, September 3, Desruisseaux and Soufriere ended on 1 goal apiece after their full one hour of play. Goal scorer for Desruisseaux was Carnil Monchery, while William Cenac netted Soufriere’s goal.
In the exhilarating penalty shootout that followed, Desruisseaux edged out Soufriere by 4-3.
In Match #3, Dennery got the better of the goal-less Micoud team after Kurt Frederick capitalized on the home field advantage by scoring two goals.
In the final match on Saturday, September 3, at the Dennery Playing Field, Vieux Fort South edged past Mabouya Valley 2-1. Goal scorers for Vieux Fort South were Donavan Perpie and Moses Henry, while the lone scorer for Mabouya Valley was Robert Lawrence.
Meanwhile David “Shakes” Christopher, CEO of Blackheart Football Tournament, says the Big 8 set a high standard for what’s to come for the tournament proper.
“I’m very proud and really happy about the high level of play we saw from most of the teams,” Christopher said. “They’re very youthful and look ready for the tournament proper.”
He added: “The crowd that came out on both days was off the hook. In speaking to some of the members in the Dennery Council, I was told that it was one of the largest crowds at the facility since it was refurbished. We’re proud to know that we could bring such a large crowd there where people can gather in harmony and safety. The security was great and we had no problems.”
As in previous years, Christopher said, the tournament continues to provide an avenue for communities to benefit from the economic spinoff.
“The hallmark of the whole event was the economic spinoff, whereby we saw various vendors on the perimeter of the ground earning a living,” he stated. “That’s what Blackheart is all about: where people in the communities where matches are played can benefit from the economic spinoff of the tournament.”
The Big 8 featured the top eight seeded teams from the last Blackheart Football Tournament held in 2019. Due to COVID-19, no tournament was held in 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, the Annual Blackheart Football Tournament proper kicks off on Saturday, September 24, in Mabouya Valley.