Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
President of the St Catherine Football Association, Peter Reid, feels the leagues run by his organisation are making huge strides.
He feels the growth and development seen in the league over the past couple seasons has a lot to do with sponsorship as well as programmes aimed at developing young talent.
There are currently two leagues and a knock-out competition run by the St Catherine FA. There is the Major League, the primary league that has 11 teams, Division 1 that features 10 teams, and then there is the Happy Sutherland knockout competition that involves 32 teams coming from Division One and Two, the Major League, Super League and Portmore United, the sole National Premier League team in the parish.
The biggest gain made by the competitions in St Catherine is parity, the president said.
"What has been most impressive for us is the parity; you don't have a runaway club," he said. "Just recently, there was a match that ended 4-3 between the recently promoted Frazer's Whip from Division One and (long-time kingpins) Wanderers. You have team matching teams, so you might have games decided by the odd goal in three or the odd goal in five. There isn't any big disparity between clubs."
There are several keys reasons for the greater level of parity, he believes, and it all starts with sponsorship.
"Firstly, with LIME coming on board, we were able to assist the teams better. For instance, it helps pay the referees fees, so that helps with the expenses that they don't have to worry about. In addition, that money can be put back in the clubs. With the sponsorship, the clubs manage to save more than J$40,000, money that is often re-invested into the respective clubs," Reid said.
"That money goes back to buying gear, providing nutrition for the players, and things like transportation," he said, adding that it might not sound like a lot of money but it does go a long way into helping the clubs.