The novel idea of Fastball from Guyana Telephone & Telegraph (GT&T) has turned into a beautiful product, according to organiser Kashif Mohammad, and excitement is building for the round of 32 which is slated to begin July 24.
In that light, the company’s CEO Yog Mahadeo has made the point that the competition has been able to engage Guyana from the grassroots level.
Mohammad, the co-director of the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation, said yesterday at a press conference at the GT&T canteen, that Fast Ball has taken Guyana by storm with its concept that differs from conventional football. He pointed out that many persons have approached him asking whether the concept derived from world governing body FIFA because of how exciting it is.
Mohammad also took the time to thank the management of GT&T for organising such a tournament, which he sees growing in years to come.
The competition started with 217 teams and now 109 remain. Some areas have completed their competition and are awaiting the others to enter the round of 32 that starts on July 24.
The semi-final and final will be played on August 7 at the Guyana National Stadium.
Most of the other areas – East Coast and Georgetown will complete theirs on July 21 while Bartica and Linden will wrap up on July 17.
According to Mohammad fifty percent of Georgetown and East Coast games are finished.
On the other hand, Chief Financial Officer of GT&T Royston Rachpaul said that for the round of 32, teams will be given promotional minutes and other incentives.
And Rachpaul noted that the “trickle down effect” is that teams are getting to participate in the tournament while Guyana has much to gain from it.
He also disclosed that so far the company has expended close to $30 million of its $40M budget for the competition. Apart from that there will be an added incentive for persons who can ‘skill the ball or dove’, in Guyanese parlance, at the final. Kurt ‘Bluey Max’ Jardine will be vetting the names of the persons entering the tournament.
It was noted that the person who can ‘dove’ the most will receive money – for example if somebody ‘doves’ 200 with the ball (without the ball touching the ground) he/she will receive $200,000. The winner of the Fastball competition will receive $1M, trophies and other incentives while the runner-up will take home $500,000 and other incentives.
Rachpaul said further that the telephone company will be hosting a concert after the final and the celebrated Jamaican-American reggae singer Tarrus Riley of “She’s Royal” fame is already confirmed. He said that they are working on getting some other artistes to perform.
Mahadeo, in his brief remarks, said that the objective of the tournament was achieved, stating that it embraced all who visited the games and who participated. Further, he said that the company has a surprise for the community of Linden where the tournament was launched because the residents there were warm and welcoming.
He said that initially there were some teething problems but as the games progressed these were eliminated. He indicated that another objective is to place the competition on a pedestal worthy of emulation.
He also thanked the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) for its support and blessing and said the company is cognizant of the rules that must be followed as set out by the local governing body for football.
General Secretary of the GFF Noel Adonis commended GT&T for their initiative, which has spurred excitement. He acknowledged too that the investment was a big one and he got the impression that the company is seeing returns based on the interest Fastball has generated.