One doubts that the twenty first annual Kashif & Shanghai football tournament can match the spectacle of its immediate predecessor, though, over the years, the promoters have proven quite adept at springing surprises. Last year’s visit by the Brazilian icon, King Pele, placed the event in another league, adding a generous measure of legitimacy to the claim that the tournament is the best event that local football has ever offered.
This year the organization will again be seeking to add a Brazilian touch to the tournament. We are told that plans are in the making to have a Club from the state of Roraima compete against a local All Stars team on the December 12th opening night of the 2010/2011 tournament. Cementing closer football ties with Brazil is a shrewd move on the part of the organization. Certainly, it is in keeping with the broader sense of optimism that the commissioning of the Takatu Bridge and the availability of a more reliable road link with Brazil will cement ties with Brazil that will bring benefits to Guyana that will go far beyond football.
The Kashif & Shanghai organization may also be on the threshold of pulling off another major coup before the start of this year’s tournament. Three months of negotiations with a United States sports promotion entity named PLUS ONE has brought them to the threshold of an agreement that could see players from the top teams in the tournament benefit from prizes of sports gear to add to the $5m in prize monies on offer this year. “We are very optimistic that PLUS ONE will come on board with us this year. We are also hoping to broker a relationship between PLUS ONE and the local Federation that could result in some measure of assistance to the Golden Jaguars,” the organization’s Director Kashif Muhammad said recently.
Setting aside the fact that the annual Kashif & Shanghai tournament is timed to coincide with the holiday season and therefore generates a much higher than usual level of interest, the tournament’s real success reposes in the sustained ability of its organizers to attract sponsorship from some of the country’s leading business houses. The sheer size of the tournament has led to persistent speculation as to just how much the event costs and how much the organizers get to keep for themselves. The issue has surfaced this year again. Last week, Presidential Adviser on Empowerment Odinga Lumumba, who is also President of one of the top local clubs was quoted as saying that the $2m prize money should be doubled. The Kashif and Shanghai organization has responded by challenging Lumumba’s assertions with regard to the extent of financial sponsorship and have itemized what they say are the rising costs associated with planning and executing the event.
Controversies have become commonplace in local football and this one will probably pass quickly amidst the anticipated blitz of promotion which, any day now, will precede the tournament. Interestingly, Lumumba found room in his recent public statement about prize monies to speak generously about the tournament and its role in enhancing local football, though he appeared to up the ante in a subsequent television interview by declaring that Alpha United will not be part of the tournament unless the prize monies are increased.
Be that as it may Muhammad has said that all of the customary mechanisms to get the twenty first tournament underway are in place. “Today (November 23) we are due to meet with the Guyana Football Federation. Apart from that we are busy trying to engage the Brazilian team scheduled to be here for the visit and working with our sponsors to ensure that we meet the marketing commitments that we have given. We’re rolling!