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Guinness going all out with Street Football Challenge

Published:Thursday | February 19, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott
Andrew Anguin (left), acting brand manager, Guinness, gets a firm handshake from Kamal Powell, senior sponsorship and development manager, Digicel, at the official launch of the Guinness Street Football Challenge at Norma's Pub on Waltham Park Road, on Wednesday. Digicel has signed on as a major sponsor of the initiative this year.

Guinness will stop at nothing to ensure that they deliver football and entertainment of the highest quality for the first Guinness-run Street Football Challenge to be staged here in Jamaica. The tournament was launched at Norma's Pub on Tuesday, and will kick off on March 1, with the parish competitions set to run from March 1 to May 31.

The 13 parish winners (Kingston and St Andrew to compete as one parish) along with three wild card teams will then advance to the national finals set for June 14, with the overall champion representing Jamaica at the regional championship to be hosted by Jamaica on June 27 and 28.

Teams must register through their respective parish association or via a Digicel hotline, which will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays to Fridays.

Sixteen teams will be selected for each parish tournament. They will be published in The STAR and online on the Guinness Facebook page. The teams will then be placed in four groups of four, with the top two advancing to the quarter-final play-offs.

Registration is now open, however, all players must be of drinking age (18 years old or older) to qualify for participation in the tournament.

"The Guinness Street Football Challenge is the premier street football competition in the Caribbean. Over the next three to four months, it will culminate the very best teams we have in the region for the pride of community, the pride of their nation and the pride of the Caribbean. It's just absolutely exciting when we think about this type of challenge," Guinness brand manager Andrew Anguin told The Gleaner.

"Our focus has always been music, but football has been one of the vehicles that is important to connect with our consumers. We owe it to our fans, we owe it to our consumers to give the best possible entertainment package and the best football tournament, and we will stop at nothing to deliver," he added.

Anguin says they want to sustain the tournament.

"Sustainable development of community football is of great importance, and the only way we saw that being possible was to partner with the governing body of football.

"We went to the JFF (Jamaica Football Federation) with our plans and they fully endorsed it and the structure that we have will ensure football of the highest quality with collaboration from them ... . We are looking to have this relationship through the tournament and into the future," he said.

Meanwhile, David Shirley of Locker Room Sports, one of the sponsors and official equipment provider, believes the tournament has great potential.

"If you watch international football, everybody is playing with skills and making short passes, so I think this (tournament) will help recognise those skills and, hopefully, we will find great players for the national programme," he said.