Guinness delivers national futsal potential
TWICKENHAM PARK, St Catherine:
National futsal coach, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, is keeping a close eye on the teams in this year's staging of the Guinness Street Football Challenge (GSFC), declaring that he's already seen talent that can be developed for national duties.
Whitmore assessed the skill of players from St Catherine and Clarendon on Saturday at the Jose Marti High School, as they vied for parish titles and a chance to play in the GSFC finals at the end of May.
"What I've seen here today is a display of raw talent. This league is definitely a healthy talent pool where we can develop futsal," said Whitmore, as he assessed players during their pre-game warm-up sessions.
"Guinness has made our job easier. We anticipate that at the end of the national finals the national futsal team league would be able to identify at least a 40-man pool to train and develop."
That's good news for teams like Medley Mixers, who emerged St Catherine parish champions on Match Day six. The team dispatched Sonic Legends 3-1 to secure their spot in the national finals. They also caught Whitmore's attention, who described the Central Village-based side as "organised and compact".
Other standout teams included reigning Guinness Street Football champions Slash Dash, who began their campaign to defend their national title in winning form on Saturday. The four-man team served rivals Power Squad an embarrassing 3-0 drubbing to claim the Clarendon title.
Slash Dash team captain, Ricardo Wright and Medley Mixers' captain, Rohan Williams, both say they're anxious for the national stage and the opportunity to be seen by scouts. For Wright, Saturday's parish finals is just another step in their journey to defend their national title
"We will now go back to the drawing board for the national finals and hopefully make it to the Caribbean finals in St Lucia," he said.
Slash Dash emerged national champions in 2015, but suffered a crushing defeat to St Lucia in the quarter-final stage of the regional competition.
Regional stage for local GSFC champions
Parish winners will battle for the national title in Kingston on May 29. In addition to a share of $3.5 million in prize money, the national champions will get an all-expenses paid trip to St Lucia to play for the regional top prize. The GSFC organisers say the exposure to national scouts only sweetens the pot for players.
"We're very pleased with the level of skill we've seen. Having 'Tappa' taking note of potential players for national duties really serves to endorse our efforts. It says that we're on the right track," said Imru James, brand manager for stouts and malta at Red Stripe.
The competition continues with parish finals for teams from Kingston and St Andrew today on the Kingston Waterfront. Four-man teams may sign up online at www.gsfcjamaica.com on the Guinness Facebook page or by calling the GSFC hotline at 618-9291.