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Stepping up to the plate for street football finals

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St Vincent and the Grenadines has been afforded the opportunity to host the second edition of the regional Guinness Street Football Challenge, set for the Arnos Vale Netball Complex later this month.{{more}}

This, in no small measure, is credited to Team Crew, which represented this country in the inaugural final last year in Guyana and came away champions.

This time around, it will be School Yard which will carry the hopes and aspirations of Vincentians, as they seek to continue the Vincentian hold on the title.

Street football, as a competitive sport on the Vincentian circuit, is still at the nursing stage; hence, it does not have a large following.

Many of those in attendance are there to take advantage of the specially priced beverages and other forms of entertainment packaged with the competition.

This was obvious during the staging of the preliminary round of competition at the local level and at last Wednesday’s final.

There is evidence to suggest that football was the secondary event, that product advancement took precedence, and that very little administrative thought was engaged, especially at the final.

Organisers were woeful in their execution of what passed for a competition of national magnitude.

The rickety nets, the poor lining of the court, the absence of first responders, in a sport which carries a high probability of persons becoming injured, were just some of the shortcomings of the local final.

One would have thought that implements such as the water hog and other sapping up devices, would have been employed for mopping up operations, especially since there were heavy rains earlier in the afternoon.

It was also clear that our local match officials were at their wits end and did not do a good job when they were called to adjudicate on matters relative to that variation of football.

Let us, however, keep the faith that when the other overseas outfits touch down every effort will be made to have a good showing, not only to get the brews sold, but to ensure that our guests are given a fair opportunity.

This is against the background that we are assured of a large crowd for the night of the finals – Saturday, as a well-known Jamaican artiste will be in attendance.

Also, there is the added incentive of seeing former Dutch player Ruud Gullit in the flesh.

Gullit, a former World Footballer of the Year, and coach of English clubs Chelsea and Newcastle United, is the tournament’s face.

And, as part of the build-up to the finals, St Vincent and the Grenadines is getting a bounty of publicity, especially on the very popular Sportsmax; so what more can we ask for?

But beyond the certainties, getting things in place and getting the right heads in position to ensure that the visitors are satisfied with us as host, have to be high on the priority list for those entrusted with organizing the regional showpiece.

Yes, primarily, it is the St Vincent Brewery Ltd and some members of staff of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation who are in the seats of decision making. But this is why it is imperative to look outside for persons with the acumen to get the job done efficiently.

Guyana got some good marketing exposure last year, with the sports television network, a major player in that drive.

So, whilst every country has its own style of delivery at events of this nature, which is often in accordance with cultural practices, it would be worth the while if all the stops can be pulled out and the best possible benefits are maximized.

There is ample time left for us to pull out all the stops, and step up to the plate manfully.

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