WITH the countdown on for the commencement of the island’s inaugural Semi-Professional Football League [SPFL] next month, the stakes are high and expectations are mounting.
At a recent media launch, major stakeholders in the SPFL setup highlighted the relevant matters put in place to get the league competition underway.
Youth Development and Sports Minister Kenson Casimir cited the importance of enabling participation and economic activity, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
“We believe that sports can make a significant contribution in our community, for both the individual and the community,” asserted Casimir.
He disclosed that players will be paid an average of $200 per match, with additional incentives in store for developmental training and to pursue academic qualifications.
Prime Minister Philip J Pierre reaffirmed government’s commitment to the overall development of sports on the island. He spoke of upgrading works to be undertaken at the Mindoo Phillip Park [MPP] and adjoining Marchand Grounds ‘the original home of football in Saint Lucia’.
The prime minster recalled that the Cabinet of Ministers held lengthy discussions on this initiative, with a drive and passion “to improve the lives of people”.
The SPFL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Francis “Parry” Daniel assured that he is up to the task, despite the ‘teething’ problems and challenges that the league may have to encounter.
Daniel said the SPFL aims to create a platform where talent is nurtured.
He said in reaching out to corporate partners, the SPFL also wants “to create an enabling environment for stakeholders and we really want to be in a position to engage players, administrators, coaches and the business sector in Saint Lucia.”
The SPFL boss stressed that while government’s allocation of “seed money” is critical to the establishment of this venture, yet “for this to be consistent, we at the SPFL must ensure that every cent is accounted for and we achieve the objective as set out by the government of Saint Lucia.”
He said the SPFL staffers want to undertake this venture in such a way “that it attracts members of the Chamber of Commerce to come on board and gradually relinquish government of this financial responsibility.”
Daniel says the intention is “to make Saint Lucia a regional powerhouse …and contribute to the holistic development of the sport.”
“We believe in the power of football to bring people together through an economic activity,” added Daniel. “Irrespective of the social economic background our community is inclusive by this shared love for the ‘beautiful game’ and of course innovation.”
He continued, “Embracing innovation is crucial and the SPFL is committed to leveraging uttermost technology, modern methods of promoting tournaments, and certainly partnerships to push boundaries for what football can achieve.”
Furthermore, Daniel explained, part of the SPFL’s mandate is “to go out and work with each respective district”, where there is a total of 19 league affiliates. He adds that the responsibility also entails, instructing the district leagues, to be aware of “the kind of behaviour that we at the SPFL espouse to.”
Integral to the functions of the SPFL is the establishment of a Board of Directors to oversee the operations of the league.
The SPFL Board of Directors consist of the following persons; Dr. Uralise Delaire – Chairperson, Anthony La Montagne, Kendal Emmanuel, Shayne Paul, Jason Mondesir, Francis Daniel, Emmanuel Bellas, Andie George and a representative from the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Additionally, in its wider context and format, the SPFL is sub-divided into two groups –
Tier 1 – The Premiere Cup Teams (2024):
Gros Islet Football League, Dennery Football League, La Clery Football League, Castries Football League, Laborie Football League, Choiseul Football League, Canaries Football League, Desruisseaux Football League, Mabouya Valley Football League and Soufriere Football League.
Tier 2 – The Super Cup Teams (2024):
Micoud Football League, Roseau Valley Football League, South Castries Football League, Mon Repos Football League, Vieux Fort South Football League, Vieux Fort North Football League, Babonneau Football League, Anse La Raye Football League and Marchand Football League.