The Banks Beer Cup football tournament which kicked off Sunday night at the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) ground is of a high quality says Kwabina Griffith vice president of the Georgetown Football Association (GFA).
In an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport, Griffith, who is responsible for Technical and Tactical Development, said that first prize money has been increased by one million dollars.
Some 15 teams affiliated to the GFA are competing in the tournament for the Georgetown teams who have not been invited to participate in the annual Kashif and Shanghai tournament because of a dispute between the GFA and the Guyana Football Federation.
Initially the first place prize money was two million dollars.
However, President of the Alpha United Football Club Odinga Lumumba, through his company Mc Neal Enterprise, contributed $1million while Courtney Benn Contracting Services ploughed other $1million dollars into the tournament.
Benn’s and Lumumba contribution has resulted in the second place prize money increased to $1.5 million dollars.
Griffith said that no team will walk away empty-handed from the tournament.
“It’s always our policy that the teams must share in the spoils. Once the prize monies have been paid and all expenses have been paid there will be sharing of whatever proceeds are left over,” he said. The tournament, he said, is for the development of football adding that the GFA was not there to exploit teams or players.
He also said that the GFA was not in the business to make money but to represent the footballers adding that it was their belief that this is one way of giving back to the footballers.
“We are doing this because our teams are accustomed to playing football in the Christmas season and we will continue to play football during the season,” Griffith said.
He explained that the teams competing in this tournament were excluded from the 2011/2012 Kashif and Shanghai Tournament and reiterated that the tournament was organized because the teams are accustomed to playing football during the Christmas.
“The Georgetown Football Association went to Banks DIH for sponsorship for a knockout tournament because our teams are looking to us, the administration, to provide for them. “So if they are not getting what they are accustomed to, we will give it to them.”
Asked whether the Banks Beer tournament would be able to pull the traditional supporters of the Kashif and Shanghai tournament, Griffith said it is their hope that the tournament is a successful one.
“The fact that 15 teams have registered shows that we have the support of our teams and we plan to give very high quality football.”
The beverage giant, he said, invested heavily and as such, he said GFA was offering a good product to the spectators which he hopes will draw crowds to the tournament.
Griffith said the tournament being made into an annual one will be dependent on the support it receives from the public.
The 15 teams competing are; Sunburst Camptown, Fruta Conquerors, Alpha United, University of Guyana, Georgetown Football Club, Houston Stars, Northern Rangers, Police Football Club, Santos FC, Beacon FC, Flamingo FC, Black Pearl FC, Riddim Squad FC, Charlestown United FC and the Guyana Defence Force.