Football Association gearing up for Caribbean Cup

From left to right: Jim Xavier of the Department of Youth Development and Sports followed by Minister Shawn Edwards and President of the St Lucia Football Association, Lyndon Cooper.

Thursday’s press conference at the Department of Youth Development and Sports was intended to launch the St Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Super League Knockout Stage and the upcoming Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Caribbean Cup being played here from October 21-25. However, it seemed more like a last ditch attempt to save or resurrect the game in St Lucia.
During his opening remarks, President of the SLFA, Lyndon Cooper, informed everyone that the Super League quarter final stage involving eight teams which evolved from an 18 team competition, takes place from September 30 to October 1.
Cooper explained that the competition is designed specifically to rebrand and remodel SLFA’s football, which we has floundered for several years. The association would like to bring back the enthusiasm into football and give the public what he referred to as “a new brand or faster version of the game.”
The eight teams competing in the Super League play each other twice in a knockout format,  then proceed to the third round (semi-final) followed by the fourth round or final stage. All the games are slated for Mindoo Phillip Park.
The SLFA has decided to link the Super League competition with the Caribbean Cup as part of a promotional campaign. Anyone who purchases one of the Super League tickets at a cost of $10.00, qualifies to receive a $10.00 discount off a Caribbean Cup ticket which costs $25.00. There are other promotions being considered when it comes to ticket sales.
Cooper repeatedly stressed that the SLFA is on the verge of redeveloping the game and said: “The target for us is 2014 and we need to solve more than 90 percent of issues that confront the game, in order for St Lucia to prepare for the next World Cup.”
Moving on to what he called the “genesis of the Caribbean Cup”, Cooper pointed out that St Lucia was asked to host the competition, because Curacao was not able to because their stadium was being repaired.
Cooper told the gathering at that time St Lucia was not even sure they had financial backing to compete at the eleventh hour in the Caribbean Cup.
After being informed that the Curacao would no longer be hosting the competition, the SLFU indicated to the CFU their interest in hosting it.
Following discussions with the government and having received a favourable response regarding assistance from them, Cooper indicated that two major issues the SLFA has had in the past were solved—government support and the availability of facilities. It was then the SLFU informed the CFU they were prepared to host the competition.
There are four teams competing in the CFU Caribbean Cup being played at the Beausejour Cricket Ground. Following are the schedule games. On opening day October 21, its Grenada vs St Vincent and the Grenadines at 5:00pm, followed by St Lucia vs Curacao at 7:30pm.
On October 23, 6:00pm, Curacao vs Guyana; 8:30pm, St Lucia vs St Vincent and the Grenadines. October 25, 6:00pm, St Vincent and the Grenadines vs Curacao; 8:30pm, St Lucia vs Guyana.
Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edwards, feels the timing is right when it comes to St Lucia hosting the Caribbean Cup.
“It could not have come at a better time for our country,” he said.
“I think it provides us with an opportunity to start fresh as far as raising the profile of our national team.”
He pointed out that while there is support for football at the community level, we seem to have difficulty when it comes to transferring that community based support to the national set up.
Edwards feels the Caribbean Cup provides the ministry with the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness and commitment, to work alongside national federations.
The Minister said: “Today it is the turn of the SLFA to lead the charge for St Lucia as far as hosting a regional championship. We are extremely committed, dedicated and pledged all the support that we can muster as a ministry, to ensure this event becomes a success.
The SLFA will indeed all the assistance they can get, not only from government but from other entities. During a question and answer session it was revealed that the cost of hosting the Caribbean Cup is approximately EC$289.00.

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