“Wednesday December 11, 2013 marks the rebirth of Region 10 football…OUR football…OUR players…OUR fans…OUR ground…OUR thing. For too long Linden has suffered without its beloved game occurring at a time to which we have grown accustomed. For too long, this MSC Ground has stood silent…its stands empty…at the beginning of each year”
The words of Regional Chairman and President of the Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA), Sharma Salomon. Those words received thunderous applause from the thousands who turned out at the Mackenzie Sports Club ground on Wednesday evening to witness the start of the UDFA/GT Beer Knock Out tournament.
Fourteen clubs, all from Linden will do battle for the tournament’s $2M first prize but according to Solomon, the tournament has very little to do with football but rather restoring and preservation of community’s culture and livelihood.
On December 26, 1990, the Kashif and Shanghai Football tournament was born in Linden. The tournament grew to become Guyana’s biggest sporting event and the excitement for many football fans was them travelling to Linden on New Year’s Day.
The tournament was seen as more than just football for the people of Linden, as the community benefited heavily thousands of visitors who converge for the finals.
In 2008 when Pele defeated Camptown 1 – 0, that marked the last time Linden saw of K&S Finals with the organizers noting that the event had outgrown the MSC Ground. The finals were moved to the Guyana National Stadium the following year.
“This community is taking back what we have helped to create. We the people of Linden are the ones that brought about year-end football. It was taken from us and we are bringing it back. By hosting this tournament at this time, it is our hope – the hope of both UDFA and BANKS GT Beer – to create a positive, competitive, and inspiring environment that is conducive to the enhanced development of players, coaches and the people of Linden, Region 10”. Solomon noted.
He also pointed out that “Football in Linden for the holidays is what makes Linden football the ultimate experience! I’m so honored to be a part of this new beginning, this chance to make Linden roar again, to come alive with excitement and passion”
President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Christopher Matthias lauded the efforts of Solomon and his executives in bringing back something he said the people of Linden had been longing for the last 4 years.
“I remember my friends and I looking forward to Christmas just so we can head up the Linden highway on New Year’s day for football. The memories are still fresh in the minds of many people from outside of Linden of the joy they had by just making the journey to Linden and we all felt it when the tournament was moved which gives me a very candid idea of how the people of Linden felt” Matthias said.
He added “I think Lindeners should feel lucky to have someone like Solomon who I must say deserves to be commended for handling such a situation and the turn out here (at the MSC ground) reflects how hungry and passionate you (Lindeners) are about the tournament returning to Linden”
Meanwhile, Solomon also revealed that the UDFA would be partnering with World Governing body FIFA under their Goal Programme which is aimed at associations with the most pressing needs but which lack the necessary resources to respond to them.
“Thus, the UDFA has acquired funding for the complete renovation of the Bayrock Community Center Ground with a turning of the soil in February, 2014. So, based on these activities and plans for the development, I feel confident that the future of football in Region 10 is looking bright”, Solomon concluded. (by Rawle Toney)