The Republic Bank RightStart Cup Youth Football Tournament officially kicked off last week Thursday with the traditional March Past event at the Kirani James Athletic Stadium at Queen’s Park.
According to Competition Officer Grenada Football Assn., Bruce Swan, who has been deeply involved in the tournament over the years, a record 50 teams comprising 1250 players from 22 secondary schools will engage in close to 2 months of football action until November 18.
This year’s event will see 14 teams competing in the Girls Open, 19 teams in the U-15 Boys and 17 teams in the U-20 Boys.
Swan, who chaired the opening ceremony lauded Republic Bank Ltd., for being a “marvellous corporate citizen,” having consistently contributed to the tournament throughout the years.
“Republic Bank’s contribution to the tournament over the years has not gone unnoticed,” Swan said, noting that “year after year we see the schools making more effort in preparing their teams to participate in the tournament”.
“We are now seeing more and more schools training during the vacation period, more and more teams coming from the schools,” he added, while stating that when the tournament started there were only 8 ‘Girls’ teams competing.
Also addressing the ceremony was Managing Director of Republic Bank, Keith Johnson, who commended the record 50 participation teams this year and challenged them to do their best.
“This year we have a record number of teams…so competition is going to be very stiff, especially, for the defending champions,” he said.
Johnson stated that with 50 teams vying for supremacy in the 3 divisions this can be considered as “quite a lot”.
“…You (the teams) have your work cut out for you. So, we expect a high level of performance from you and I know that you will give of your best”, he said.
According to Johnson, the tournament is now into its 14th year and a lot of good has come out of it.
He said that some of the players in the tournament “have progressed to the national side and (have) even gone onto play professional football…”.
“…It’s an opportunity for you (the footballers) whether you are 12 or 18…so take this opportunity that is being presented to you to showcase your skills and your abilities so that some scout may spot you and say this is one for the future,” he remarked.
In wishing the teams good luck, Johnson urged the players to engage in fair play, also placing on record that “the Bank is pleased to be associated with the tournament and what it has done for youth football and football in general in Grenada and we pledge our commitment to being here indefinitely.”
Also attending the opening ceremony were newly installed Sports Minister, Anthony Boatswain, along with Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Kevin Andall, who declared the tournament open and received the eyes right salute along with the Bank’s manager during the March Past event.
Hillsborough Secondary School from the sister isle of Carriacou won the March Past and was awarded the newly established first place prize of $500, along with the winning trophy, compliments Republic Bank.