Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
A new football tournament to be called the Jamaica Soccer Cup (JSC) is slated for the newly refurbished 17-acre integrated multi-purpose sports park and academy at Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth.
The launch will take place on Saturday at the Wyndham Kingston hotel and is geared towards the unearthing and development of young football players - under-10 to under-18 - with competition set to start in March 2013.
The Jamaica Soccer Cup had its genesis in the cross cultural exchange programme being facilitated by the St Elizabeth parish development committee and the Canadian Urban Institute with funding provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Head of team recruitment and tournament director Bert Lobo is charged with the task of bringing footballers to Jamaica from the United States and Canada with the distinct possibility of further securing players from as far away as England.
Anthony Davis, one of the tournament executives, expressed satisfaction with the pace of the development.
"The organising group is putting things together and we are bracing for a successful tournament. Of course, players coming in from overseas will encounter a new country and a different climate, but I think it will be a good one," Davis said.
The tournament is part of the greater sustainable development plan in the Treasure Beach area of St Elizabeth. The first Local Economic Demonstration (LED) plan identified was 'sports tourism', and it is through the development of a sports tourism strategy that this series of competitions is being developed in association with the BREDS Foundation, a wholly volunteer-based, charitable organisation run by members of the community for the benefit of the community in Treasure Beach, a small, rural enclave on Jamaica's south coast.
The JSC seeks to attract male and female teams from high schools, colleges, clubs, and universities. National teams may also participate in their respective age groups and/or categories. This is earmarked to become the premier football festival in the Caribbean.
"It will be even more successful if we can get a great number of local clubs involved in the tournament," Davis said.
Teams are guaranteed a minimum of four games.
The JSC is offering boys and girls teams under 10 (born 2002 or later) through under 18 (born 1994 or later). JSC festivals are available to those under-9 and under-10 teams (players born in 2003 and 2004), with a Masters tournament open to men born 1977 (over 35) or earlier.
The JSC tournament will be scheduled from early July through mid-August, 2013.
The annual JSC beach tournament will be held over the first weekend of August 2013 and once again will feature several national teams.