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The champions of this season’s First Citizens Cup can walk away with a maximum of TT$125,000 – twenty-five thousand more than previous editions – due to a new prize money scheme installed by Trinidad and Tobago professional league’s governing body, the TT Pro League.

For the first time in the tournament’s 17-year history, all teams will be rewarded with cash bonuses courtesy of First Citizens for each win throughout the tournament. In the semi-final round, winners are to receive TT$7,000 while in the quarter-final and play-off rounds, winners are to receive TT$5,000 and TT$3,000 respectively. The overall champions will receive TT$110,000 and TT$20,000 to the runners-up.

Formerly “No room for losers”, the First Citizens Cup will now run under the new theme “Winners will reign”.

All this, along with the match-ups for the 2016 First Citizens Cup, were revealed during the launch of the 2016 edition on Thursday morning at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.

Reigning champions W Connection, and former champions Central FC and Morvant Caledonia United all avoided the play-offs along with St. Ann’s Rangers, Police and Point Fortin Civic during a random draw supervised by Pro League (PL) CEO Dexter Skeene.

To trim the 10 league clubs for the quarter-final round of eight, the random draw pitted Club Sando against Defence Force (6pm) and San Juan Jabloteh against Ma Pau Stars (8pm) in the play-offs on Tuesday Nov. 8 at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

Jabloteh head coach, Keith Jeffrey, welcomed the play-off match-up with Ma Pau Stars—who boasts the likes of T&T World Cup 2006 members Carlos Edwards, Jason Scotland and Anthony Wolfe—saying that the Sangre Grande outfit which his side edged 1-0 in the league competition two weeks ago is “easy to beat”.

In the quarter-final round, thanks to their placements in the random draw, Police FC will tackle Point Fortin Civic and Central FC are against Morvant Caledonia United, while St. Ann’s Rangers and W Connection must take on the play-off winners between Club Sando/Defence Force and Ma Pau Stars/San Juan Jabloteh, respectively.

The quarter-final round is scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 12-13 and the semi-finals on Nov. 22, before the tournament culminates on Dec. 2 with the final.

“I am confident that this year's First Citizens Cup will be the most exciting one ever,” said Skeene during his opening remarks at Thursday’s launch.

The PL boss added, “It’s going to be awesome. Winners will reign. Communities will win. The players and coaches will feel the excitement and raise their standards. (And) I will be asking all the teams regardless of the results to after every game acknowledge and thank the spectators.”

Skeene also revealed that added to TT$1,000 incentives for the 2016 First Citizens Cup’s leading goal scorer, player of the tournament and coach of the tournament, there will also be a prize for the team with the best support ‘Posse’ (in terms of numbers, voice, uniformity, and creativity) while two TVs are among spectator giveaways.

First Citizens understand and epitomize the value, power, spirit and vision of what can be achieved when there is collective focus on living the big picture according to Skeene. He added, “[First Citizens], the flag bearer for the ingenuity, indomitable will, entrepreneurship and the full potential of us as a nation and people – the indigenous true blue Trinbagonian financial institution giant, has shared the vision over the years through thick and thin, tough times, standing with us (League) hand in hand. Communities win. Unity, peace, sustainable progress and growth can be achieved.”

The PL also hopes to schedule at least two quarter-final fixtures of one of its most prestigious tournaments—the First Citizens Cup into the communities, an enterprise applauded by coaches and club managers present, and Kurt Headley, Head of Retail at First Citizens.

“…now is the time to show all what you have got!” Headley told players and coaches during his remarks. “Football, like many other sports in Trinidad and Tobago, evokes a wealth of support from fans. The encouragement helps to keep you the players inspired on the field, yielding camaraderie and sportsmanship amongst team members.

“This year we hope to attract even more of this support with appropriately scheduled matches as well as fantastic prizes and promotional giveaways,” added Headley, who applauded the PL for its continued energy into finding innovative ways to improve the standard of local football while mentoring young people, not just into professional athletes, but well-rounded individuals.

The Morvant Recreation Ground, which will host its second ever PL fixture this Sunday in the Digicel Pro League when home team Morvant Caledonia United welcome Defence Force from 3:45pm (see full Round One Match Day Six DPL fixtures below), is one of the community venues air marked to host quarter-final fixtures in the First Citizens Cup.

“Sport can make a huge, tangible and powerful difference to our country,” Skeene believes. “If communities win; unity and peace will win. The TT Pro League’s DNA is in the communities. Until this year we haven’t been able to show that in a definitive way. On Sunday October 16 we created TT Pro League history when the first ever Pro League game was played at the Morvant Recreation Ground – the response was awesome.”

Estimates ranged between 17oo and 2000 when Morvant Caledonia hosted Jabloteh at the Park Street venue in Morvant. The hosts fell to a 4-2 defeat but the turnout of supporters that flocked the Morvant Recreation Ground restored a high level of pride in the community.

“The Pro League in the communities is a dream and goal we have worked on relentlessly and tirelessly for over a decade,” continued Skeene. “It was an annual rite of passage that I would have a meeting with the Ministry of Sport and Sport Company every year.”

Skeene thanked the Honourable Minister of Sport, Mr. Darryl Smith, the Ministry of Sport, the Sport Company, and in particular Mr. Anthony Blake of the Sport Company for their sterling efforts which are ongoing, together with the regional corporation. He said, “We must continue to work with the regional corporations, the Sport Company and the ministry to roll out a venue for each club represented in the TT Pro League.”

Action in the Digicel Pro League continues this weekend with a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Friday Nov. 4 with leaders Central against Police FC from 6pm and W Connection against St. Ann’s Rangers in a top-of-the-table clash from 8pm.

The Couva venue will host another DPL double-header on Sunday Nov. 6 with Jabloteh against Civic from 4pm and Club Sando against Ma Pau Stars from 6pm, while Morvant Caledonia United tackle Defence Force from 3:45pm at the Morvant Recreation Ground.

First Citizens Cup 2016
Play-off Round
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Ato Boldon Stadium
Club Sando vs Defence Force—6pm
Ma Pau Stars vs San Juan Jabloteh—8pm

Quarter Final Round
(November 12-13)

Semi Final Round
(November 22)

Final
(December 2)

Digicel Pro League 2016
Round One Match Day Six
(Friday, November 04, 2016)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Central FC vs Police FC—6pm
W Connection vs St. Ann’s Rangers—8pm

(Sunday, November 06, 2016)
Morvant Recreation Ground
Morvant Caledonia United vs Defence Force—3:45pm

Ato Boldon Stadium
San Juan Jabloteh vs Point Fortin Civic—4pm
Club Sando vs Ma Pau Stars—6pm