TT Pro League leaders, Central F.C. will be hoping for some big support from the Central community on Saturday, when a win against St Ann’s’ Rangers at Ato Boldon Stadium will see the California based team retain the top spot.
“This is our first true home fixture” said Managing Director, Brent Sancho, after The Sharks played their first two “home” games at Manny Ramjohn and Larry Gomes Stadiums. “Ato Boldon is our home ground and we want to encourage all of the Central community to support their local team.”
Sancho, who was on a tour of local schools to promote the game, with former Caroni legend, Devonish Paul, added “If we truly want to see the revival of football as a spectator sport, I think everyone agrees that we have to play close to our communities and encourage them to come to games.
It really is a mathematical exercise; if we can lure 50 new supporters this week, then hopefully they will bring their friends next week and so on. We cannot expect to go from zero to 3,000 in one month. However, we will do all in our power to fill the stadium and create an atmosphere that will encourage supporters to return.”
Former T&T international goalkeeper, Devonish Paul said “We have been begging for a real Central professional team to represent the region at the highest levels for years. Now we have one, we must hope that the community will support them. We have a lot of talent in the Central Region and some very good teams in the Central F.A. Now the players have a professional club to aim for.”
Sancho and Paul were mobbed when they visited Couva West Secondary school, where they distributed tickets for the game. They then moved on to Couva East Secondary, Waterloo Primary School, Chaguanas Secondary School, Preysal High School, California Govt Primary School and Union Claxton Bay Secondary. “We also distributed tickets to Presentation College, Chaguanas.
At this stage of our development, it’s vital to get young people involved in watching football. Kids these days have so many distractions and, of course, they can sit at home and watch Barcelona or Chelsea. But there is no other buzz in the world like sitting in a packed stadium watching your team play live.
At a game you hear things that you miss on TV like the coaches shouting instructions, the players calling for a pass and, of course, the banter from the crowd. It can be like that at Pro League matches. We don’t need 20,000 people at a game. 4,000 people in Ato Boldon would be an incredible atmosphere.”
Marketing Manager, Marclene Toussaint said that feedback from the first two “home” games was very positive. “We’ve been trying to offer more value for supporters” said Toussaint. “We provide a free match programme, which has proved very popular, and we also have been distributing free noisemakers.”
Toussaint said that the club were looking to local businesses to help encourage supporters to attend games. “Universal Foods have been very supportive and provided us with mini cereal packs to give away at games, as well as prizes for our free draw.”
At the last game vs T&TEC, Rhea Thomas was the lucky winner of a Hershey’s hamper supplied by Universal. “We’re hoping more Central businesses will come on board and support their local team” said Toussaint.
Operations Manager Kevin Harrison said that despite scheduling congestion, both the Pro League and the management at Ato Boldon have been very keen to see The Sharks play in the Central region. “It’s so difficult with so many organisations fighting for usage of just 4 stadiums.
Then we have problems such as lighting failures or over use of the pitch. It really highlights the need for clubs to have a stadium of their own, or at least control over a community field. But we are grateful to SPORTT and the Pro League for their support in our aim to increase attendances at Ato Boldon”
The Graham Rix led Sharks will be hoping for a 3 point springboard from Saturday’s game to maintain the teams momentum into their Tuesday night rearranged clash against W.Connection.
“If both Central and W.Connection win on Saturday, Tuesday’s game will determine who is top of the league after 4 games. “said Sancho. “It’s very early in the season, but I feel this year will be an exciting one for supporters.”
Central F.C. Vs St Anns Rangers 5pm Saturday 3rd November Ato Boldon Stadium followed by T&TEC vs Caledonia AIA at 7pm Admission $30.