More teams are likely to compete in the 20th anniversary of the Kashif and Shanghai football tournament later this year even as the organizers fine tune plans for a junior version of the tournament bringing together secondary schools from around the country by mid year.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony for the just concluded Christmas football extravaganza Thursday evening at Water Chris Hotel, Kashif Muhammad, Director of the Kashif and Shanghai organization disclosed that plans are in the pipeline for a much bigger competition at the end of the year.
According to Muhammad, the organization is contemplating increasing the number of teams to 24 from its current format of 16 teams and will start much earlier to allow more local clubs to showcase their talent.
“This year as you know marks the 20th anniversary of the tournament and we have already begun to give consideration to the shape of what we want to do in 2009. Some of the plans are still on the drawing board but we are considering increasing the number of teams to 24 and we plan to start as early as November,” Muhammad told the gathering of prize winners, sponsors and special invitees.
He expressed disappointment at having to remove the final from Linden, a move that disappointed many fans from the mining town.
But he chided playing facilities not only in Linden but also around the country.
“We were disappointed too over the fact that the rain played havoc with playing conditions at some matches, though, the rain aside, we continue to be deeply disturbed over the local playing surfaces – they are substandard and in need of considerable upgrading,” Muhammad said.
“We cannot reasonably expect to produce good games and good players and good national teams if we continue to offer poor surfaces,” he added.
According to Muhammad another disappointment was the absence of teams from West Demerara and Bartica which was excusable because of problems surrounding football in those areas.
He declared the tournament a success adding that he was thrilled by the number of spectators which the stadium attracted for the final and third place play-off saying it could be compared to big international matches played overseas.
In relation to the Kashif and Shanghai sponsored Inter-Secondary School tournament, Muhammad said that plans are at an advanced stage and information will be revealed in due course.
Banks DIH Communications Manager, Troy Peters, who spoke on behalf of the sponsors, disclosed that the just-concluded tournament set new standards and the sponsors should feel proud of their investment.
He said the local beverage giants has been a sponsor from the start of the tournament 19 years ago and will continue to play an important role in the event.
Pele Football Club won the title for the first time when they scored a 1-0 win over Sunburst Camptown in the final on New Years Day.
They received a cheque for $1 million donated by the Guyana Government plus the championship trophy and other prizes.
Camptown for their effort secured $1/2 million dollars while Bakewell Topp XX copped the third spot with the Guyana Defence Force securing fourth place.
National captain Charles “Lilly” Pollard who represented Pele was voted the Most Valuable Player and was one of a number of players from the new champions to capture individual prizes.
Pele’s custodian Shemroy Arthur was voted the Best Goalkeeper while their coach Denzel “Hunky Brains” Thompson was named Best Coach and captain Dirk Archer (Best Midfield Player).
Berbice’s Cougars Football Club won the Best Offensive and Fair Play team awards respectively, sharing the latter with Fruta Conquerors.
Camptown’s Lance Rolston won the Most Spectacular goal award whilst second runners-up Bakewell Topp XX’s inspirational midfielder Kayode Mc Kinnon was adjudged the Most Disciplined Player.
A special coach’s award was presented to Troy Mendonca who saw Camptown through to the final.
President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Colin Klass delivered the feature address while Treasurer Aubrey Henry chaired the evening’s proceedings.
Referee’s Instructor Lawrence “Sparrow” Griffith presented a statistical report.