The curtains came down on the inaugural Veterans International Masters Football Tournament late Sunday evening at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground (DSCG) in front of an appreciative crowd made up of local and overseas participants, family and friends who came in to soak up the action of the World’s No. 1 sport.
The event organized by Veterans in Sports Inc (VISI) in collaboration with Caribbean Alliance Insurance and the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority has been dubbed a “huge success” by VISI CEO Alvin Malaykhan.
On the pitch, Pele Masters out of the USA made a clean sweep, emerging champions both in the 40 Plus and 50 Plus category.
In the 40 Plus final, Pele Masters defeated a spirited Gros Islet Veterans 2-0; while in the 50 Plus they had the better of X-Men from Trinidad and Tobago 4-2 in a penalty shootout; the scores were locked 0-0 after regulation time.
Malaykhan spoke to the media following the finals between Pele Masters and Gros Islet; he said, “It was an exciting, hard and tiring tournament. From all the feedback from the players, it’s going to be an exciting tournament for the future”.
“We started on Friday evening with a welcome Cocktail reception, followed up with matches on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It’s been a long tournament; they all love the game, but at the end it was very taxing on the body, and all the teams that participated really enjoyed this tournament”.
He said, “As an organizer, I am pretty much pleased with what I saw and the manner in which we executed it. With all tournaments there are always little glitches. It’s our first time doing a tournament of this magnitude; we can only build on it. Hats off to all the individuals who helped us execute this”.
“Sponsors Caribbean Alliance Saint Lucia Insurances, without them definitely there would be no tournament like this. The support they have given, and the support my family has given… because to put on a tournament like this comes with a lot of personal financial pressures,” he said.
Financially speaking, Malaykhan said, “This tournament cost close to $300,000.00 and to put it together entailed a lot of logistics; we can only build on it. If you want to get the brand of football we are trying to get out there, you have to spend some money, you have to execute, and you have to get good partners. It’s not easy. Sometimes when you have players coming from overseas onto our shores, you have to produce a good tournament, a tournament they can respect because they are coming to have a good time and the feedback I have received from all the foreign teams indicates they really enjoyed the hospitality of Saint Lucia. They had fun.”
Malaykhan thanked the various sponsors, Digicel, KFC, Blue Waters, Saint Lucia Distillers, Peter and Company Distribution, RJB Hotel Supplies, the trophy Centre, and the Boys Training Centre (for use of their bus).
Malaykhan said, “Teams from the United Kingdom, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, more teams from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and the USA are enquiring for next year’s tournament. We are expanding. The players from overseas, they were excited. I don’t think they expected such a high level of execution; the professionalism that we brought to the tournament and of course, the best football playing facility in the Caribbean, the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground. We were fascinated as we were able to divide the DSCG into two world class football pitches with the help of Ken Crafton and the Saint Lucia Sports Inc.”
The schedule of prizes were: 40 Plus – 1st Place USD$3,500.00 and trophies, Pele Masters – USA; 2nd Place USD$2,000.00 and trophies, Gros Islet Veterans – Saint Lucia; 3rd Place USD$1,200.00 and trophies, Era Masters – Trinidad; 4th Place USD$500.00 and trophies, SLU Metals Central Vieux Fort.
Most Valuable Player (Finals) USD$300.00 plus trophy, RawleGittens – Pele Masters – USA; Most Valuable Player (Tournament) USD$300.00 plus trophy, RawleGittens – Pele Masters – USA; Most Goals of the Tournament USD$300.00 plus trophy, RawleGittens – Pele Masters – USA.
Plate Winners X-Men TnT; 1st Runner UpMarchand Veterans, 2nd Runner Up Anse la Raye Veterans; 3rd Runner Up Soufriere Veterans
Schedule of Prizes: 50 Plus – 1st Place USD$2,000.00 plus trophies, Pele Masters – USA; 2nd Place USD$1,200.00 plus trophies, X-Men TnT; 3rd Place USD$700.00 plus trophies VSADC; 4th Place USD$300.00 plus trophies, Vieux Fort South.
Most Valuable Player (Finals) USD$200.00 and trophy, Trevor Isaacs – Pele Masters – USA; Most Valuable Player (Tournament) USD$200.00 and trophy, Trevor Isaacs – Pele Masters – USA; Most Goals of the Tournament USD$200.00 and trophy, Bertram Ismael – Caricom Masters.
Plate Division Winners Gros Islet Veterans; 1st Runner UpCaricom Masters; 2nd Runner Up Marchand Veterans; 3rd Runner Up All Blacks – Dennery.