Mon, Jan

$5m Ascension Football League targets September kick-off.

The long-awaited Ascension Football Tournament, which caters for all football in T&T, inclusive of the T&T Pro League, the T&T Super League, the Regional Associations (Northern FA, Southern FA, Eastern FA, Central FA, Eastern FA), the Women's Football League (WoLF), Beach Football and Futsal, is now set for a September start.

Ascension's Football Director Keiron Edwards confirmed that approval to run the tournament was given last year, and now with the vaccination drive a necessity to have action on the field of play, his group has been putting everything in place for the go-ahead by the government.

FIFA-installed Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad had expressed a desire to have a Unified League of the T&T Pro and Super League, which was set to rival the Ascension tournament this year. Efforts to start this Unified League began in 2019 with officials from UEFA, CONCACAF, FIFA and the T&TFA having discussions, but this however never materialised.

Edwards told Guardian Media Sports on Wednesday: "Ascension is looking at playing in 2021, hopefully, once the restrictions are lifted and play is allowed to resume, we would be looking at playing the Ascension League. We did get sanction by Robert Hadad and the Normalisation Committee and by extension the T&T Football Association to have the League played. We were in the process of executing that sanction when the government halted all sporting activities and we put a halt on the League. Once that resumes, we're hoping to have that League held, similar to the Euros that is currently taking place."

He also said: "Further to that we're having discussions with clubs on vaccination among the playing population, the Pro League, Super League, the zonal levels, where clubs are now collecting data to see how many players are comfortable with taking the vaccines, how many players are hesitant to take the vaccines, and if we can do an educational programme, in terms of the importance of the vaccines and what it really means."

Guardian Media Sports was also informed that once the League gets going all players, who have been inactive for almost two years, will get the opportunity to earn a living, as well showcase their talent to local selectors, with an aim of being picked on the national teams.

Edwards made it clear the idea behind the Ascension was born out of the inability of the T&T Pro League to have action back in 2019. But since its successful staging in which the winning club- Defence Force, received a whopping $250,000 prize.

The tournament will feature coverage from regional cable television network Sportsmax, live coverage from a local television station and other providers.