Football brings peace in Manchester community
ROYAL FLAT, Manchester:
It began with a group of young men who loved football and started a morning football club 16 years ago, playing from 5:30 to 7 a.m. from Tuesday to Friday of each week.
It then developed into a competition - Royal Flat Six-a-Side - among teams from different districts such as: Crossroad, Backroad, 14 Street, Lawless, Diamond Lane, and Pull-Me-Through in the community.
Today, six years later, the competition has extended its reach to several neighbouring communities in the parish, unifying areas that once rivalled each other.
The two-part competition is held annually and begins on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in July.
"We start with 16 teams, and from that 16, eight teams are advanced to the other round. These eight teams play in what we call the Tilly Bop knockout competition, which is named after a co-organiser that passed. The remaining teams then advance to the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the finals of the main competition, the winner of the Tilly Bop knockout competition gets a Tilly Bop Cup sponsored by AA Auto Mart and the Morning Ballers Association. That final will be on the 26th of June," explained event organiser Germaine Carter.
He told Rural Xpress that the impact of the competition has exceeded his expectations and has brought on a whole new meaning. He also expressed that the results make all the work done, worth it.
"It takes a lot to get the area ready, to seek sponsors and ensure a smooth flow, especially when you are also a participant because I play as well and my team; Backroad is the defending champion of the Tilly Bop Cup, the team of organisers; Marlon Hibbert, Nigel Martin, Andre Henry, Cordel Laden, Deon James, McKoy Levy and Mark Stephenson work tirelessly to make it success," Carter said.
"Hundreds of individuals turn up on Sundays, and since the competition started six years ago, there has been no war; it has brought peace to the community and people are just sad it doesn't happen twice per year, they look forward to attending every Sunday ... the Royal Flat SDA Church has been very supportive, and on that note, we must acknowledge our sponsors the Jamaica Zoo, Donovan Mitchell, Royal Lubricants, Jones Motor Rewiring, Ultimate Car wash, Terry's Restaurant and Mar's Cable," he added
The winning team is set to receive a trophy, $40,000 and medals, the runner up team will receive $20,000 and medals and the third place team will go home with $15,000 and medals.