Galina eight-a-side football brings St Mary communities together
Last year, the inaugural eight-a-side football competition that is the Galina Community Corner League attracted 12 teams. This year, for the competition that kicked off on December 2 at the Galina Primary School playing field, 20 teams will participate. The increased number means the need for even more sponsorship.
To the organisers and, indeed, to the members of this small seaside community in western St Mary, the Galina eight-a-side league is more than just football, as it transcends political, gender, age and socio-economic borders.
Elvis DeLisser, who initiated the competition and worked with Wesley Crightney, Norman Robinson and Jerome Carr to have a successful first competition, is ready with the team for the new, expanded season.
"I'm a lover of football, mi have a son growing up, mi love mi community and it's just my way of giving back to my community," he explained to The Gleaner, when asked why he started the competition.
"The competition brings out the people. On a Sunday, I see families; normally we don't see elderly persons come out, but now everybody come together as one. The community is small, everybody knows everybody. My thing is, I want to keep the community clean, we just want nice vibes."
Crightney, who is the chief organiser, said that when DeLisser approached him with the idea, he was delighted to get involved.
"Immediately I saw it as a great opportunity to involve the community as a whole and to expand the knowledge of the youth so we can keep their minds occupied - as in doing something on a Sunday," Crightney offered.
Member of Parliament for Western St Mary Robert Montague was approached and he assisted by donating the first prize of $100,000. Others came on board to help in providing the second prize of $60,000, third prize of $30,000, along with trophies and other prizes to ensure the competition was a success.
"This year, we have secured first and second prizes, so we need sponsors for third prize and other prizes," Crightney pointed out.
Well-known doctor Maurice Sloley, who resides in the community, was asked to support the competition this year and he readily accepted the offer. He sees the competition as a tool to mend broken political fences.
"Wesley asked me if I could help support and I said yes, I would gladly support it because - you have to come here and see this place on a Sunday to understand - it says to me it's transcending political boundaries," Sloley said. "The most important part of any constituency is each community and how the community reacts, and Galina is a shining example that across the political divide, we can come together and enjoy a beautiful Sunday of clean competition. As Elvis said, to keep the youth occupied, giving them purpose, something to do, allow them to bring their skills and display it."
Last year, teams came from all across St Mary and even St Ann, to participate - Galina, Port Maria, Sanside, Oracabessa, Gayle, Ocho Rios and other communities. The competition is a big thing for the community. The opening day saw the Skyline Marching Band, with police escort, marching along the Galina main road to the primary school for the start of the competition.
The community supports the games. On Sunday, six members of one family from Port Maria turned out to spend the afternoon at the game.
"We just come to watch the match," said Jovana Mitchell, a family member. It was the first time for her, but not the others. She said she was happy for the competition as it meant somewhere for families like hers to go on a Sunday afternoon.
For Jennifer Williams, another family member, the most important thing, though, was to see some goals being scored.
"We come fi see di bwoy dem a kick and score some goal. Goal, man, we waa see goal," she laughed.