The Guardian Group has once again signed on as sponsors of the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) Youth Football Competition for a fourth consecutive year.
In a short media briefing earlier today, Guardian Life of the Caribbean representative Hanif Wharton handed over the sponsorship check to BFA’s president Randy Harris at the insurance company’s Lower Collymore Rock, St Michael headquarters.
The 12-week tournament, which kicks off on September 21, has attracted 74 teams in the Under-11, Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 divisions.
This year’s competition will see the return of Eden Stars, who was one of the stalwarts in producing talent from inception, in the Under-11 division. They are set to go head-to-head with Paradise when the first ball is kicked at 9:30 a.m. at the BFA’s Wildey Turf.
In the Under-13 division, Pro Shottas and Barbados Soccer Academy will vie for bragging rights. The Under-13s will see Kick Start and the National Sports Council, who recently travelled to Grenada and finished runners-up in the Caribbean Charity for Children Tournament, contest each other, before Mavericks and Whitehall close off the day’s proceedings in the Under-17 division.
BFA’s president Randy Harris explained that the future of any organization was its young people.
“I salute the Guardian Group for coming on board with the BFA at a time when many were questioning the integrity of the organization and the way that we do business. It has gone a long way in getting our Future Tridents Development Program really organized. We need this kind of help for young people playing football.
“Many of you may not understand the importance of this particular game on society in different communities across Barbados. We play a significant role, and contrary to the belief that we are a group of people who are violent, who have no respect for the law and generally have no discipline, what we are trying to do is ensure that we help them,” he said.
Moreover, Harris said if a player did not have any example of what was expected, somebody had to work with him or her to ensure they understood how they could achieve complete success.
“The BFA is working with our young people to develop them, not only for professional football but also for those who are academically inclined to have a chance at getting scholarships in North America,” he said.
Wharton said Guardian applauded the BFA’s foresight and hard work to ensure the longevity of this tournament, its annual youth programs and other competitions which all played a part in the sustainability of an active population.
“From our discussions with the BFA, 2019 is poised to be another exciting year as many of the football clubs are already geared up to secure their place in the final, and be the champions in their respective divisions.
“This tournament will continue to connect and expose young talent. It will provide another avenue to build on those life lessons of teamwork, perseverance, discipline and goal setting, as each individual team strives to be the 2019 champions,” Wharton said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the BFA’s Youth Committee, Renaldo “Pee Wee” Gilkes said Guardian’s support had lent to the graduation of eight of its players into the senior national team.
“Just last year, one of the players who would have participated in the Under-17 competition is now a part of the senior national team set up. That is Thierry Gale who is now based in Hungary, and that is all in support of the marriage between the Guardian Group and the Barbados Football Association. Sport is a pivotal part of any individual’s development and I believe that this coming competition will spearhead other sports to follow suit,” he said, as he asked all to come out and support the youth.
In addition, fans can look forward to the Guardian Group and the BFA continuing the tradition of highlighting the player of the week and engaging the public with the popular football trivia competition via their social media pages.