Rain Forces Postponement Of SLFA/Blackheart Football – St. Lucia Times News

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This year’s SLFA/Blackheart Knockout Football Tournament has suffered yet another postponement, this time due to persistent rain affecting the island over the past few days.

Following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual SLFA/Blackheart Football Tournament kicked off on September 24, 2022, at the La Ressource Playing Field in Mabouya Valley after being postponed by a week due to referees hosting a training workshop that coincided with the original September 17 season opener.

Three days of football were scheduled to be hosted at the La Ressource Playing Field, beginning Saturday, October 1 and ending Monday, October 3.

However, organizers made the decision on Thursday to postpone this weekend’s matches, citing incessant downpours, meteorology forecasts and cautions to citizens of flash floods and other weather-related phenomena.

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An earlier inspection of the La Resource Playing Field, one of the three venues for this year’s tournament, revealed that its marshy and water-logged condition deemed it unsuitable for play.

New dates for the first round of matches will be provided shortly.

Meanwhile, the sixteen teams scheduled to play in this year’s tournament were determined at the Press Launch and Fixtures Draw convened on Wednesday evening at the Gros Islet Human Resource Development Centre.

First round match-ups are as follows:

Vieux Fort South vs. Canaries
Mabouya Valley vs. Anse La Raye
La Clery vs. Babonneau
Soufriere vs. Vieux Fort North
Micoud vs. Gros Islet
Marchand vs. South Castries
Dennery vs. Central Castries
Desruisseaux vs. Laborie

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blackheart Productions, David “Shakes” Christopher, spoke at Wednesday evening’s Press Launch, addressing some concerns related to the tournament.

He said that aside from the pandemic, other challenges facing the annual event included the loss of major sponsors, inclement weather, and social issues that continue to cause organizers to make tough decisions, including choice of venues.

Nevertheless, Christopher said organizers will continue to keep the sport of football alive, revive and protect the Blackheart brand, make positive and cost-effective decisions, guarantee patron safety, and satisfy expectations.

“We wish all teams the very best of success in this year’s competition, especially four-time and defending champions, Vieux Fort South, who are disappointed that no matches will be held at the Philip Marcellin Grounds,” Christopher said. “However, due to logistical reasons, including loss major sponsorship, we were forced to take a few tough decisions.”

As an example, if organizers were to insist on using the Philip Marcellin Grounds this year, they would have had to meet some stringent requirements, including heightened security, which would cost them $8,000.00 per night to pay 25 police officers.

“We hope that, going forward, we can have some of the prominent businesses and stakeholders in Vieux Fort come forward to discuss and lend their financial and other support towards resuming games in Vieux Fort,” Christopher said.

“We also hope that our usual Vieux Fort fans continue to come out and support their team and the tournament. For instance, we saw a large support from Vieux Fort fans during the Big 8 tournament that was held in Dennery in August when Vieux Fort South made the final.”

In 2019, Vieux Fort hosted the entire tournament.

This year, matches will be played at the Soufriere Mini Stadium, La Ressource Playing Field (Mabouya Valley) and Daren Sammy Cricket Ground. Christopher said the SLFA/Blackheart Football Tournament is the people’s tournament, and will be spread among the people and communities.

Hon. Kenson Casimir, Minister for Youth Development & Sports, also spoke at Wednesday evening’s Press Launch, noting the importance of the football tournament that was first held in 1997.

“That Blackheart that stopped beating for two years could not have continued in 2022,” he said. “And under no circumstance with me as a Minister for Sports could we have allowed for another year of Blackheart to not be the heartbeat of sports in our communities.”   

Hon. Casimir also announced that Government hopes to facilitate the establishment of a semi-professional football league in Saint Lucia soon, thereby heightening interest in the sport and giving players, coaches and other stakeholders a chance to earn a sustained income from sports.

Meanwhile, in qualifiers held on Saturday, September 24, at La Ressource Playing Field, Anse La Raye defeated Babonneau 5-3 on penalties after the second half ended 1-1.

In Match 2 that same day, South Castries defeated Choiseul 5-4 on penalties after the second half ended 1-1. On Sunday, September 25, at the same venue, Babonneau defeated Choiseul 4-1, with Yanick Noel scoring a hat-trick.

Sponsors for this year’s tournament include the Saint Lucia Football Association, Insomnia Bar and Grill, Guinness, Blue Waters (distributors of Stamina Energy), National Lotteries Authority, Ministry of Youth Development & Sports, Edge Marketing, Flow, MBC/Real FM, DBS, Vybe Radio, Soufriere Regional Development Foundation, Sports Saint Lucia Inc., RE Sports Inc., and Button Up.

SOURCE: Blackheart Productions. Headline photo:  CEO of Blackheart Football Tournament, David “Shakes” Christopher, Hon. Kenson Casimir, Minister for Youth Development & Sports, and other stakeholders at Wednesday evening’s Press Launch and Fixtures Draw.

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