The second instalment of the Ascension Invitational Football League is one step away from being confirmed for a March 18 kick-off at the La Horquetta Recreation Ground.
This was confirmed by Ascension League tournament director, Keiron Edwards when contacted on Tuesday for an update on the league competition.
The league was first held in 2019, as a pre-season event to the T&T Pro League season with record-domestic league champion Defence Force capturing the Division One crown and $125,000 top prize while San Fernando Giants won Division Two and $100,000.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition was not held in 2020 or last year, but tournament organisers have been very busy and in consultation with officials from the Ministry of Sports and Community Development, Sports Company of T&T (SPoRTT) and Ministry of Health to start the tournament which has a budget of $3.5 million by mid-March.
Last month following a meeting of sporting stakeholders T&TFA General Secretary Amiel Mohammed said that the granting of the endorsement letter needed by the Ascension Tournament would be discussed by the association with the help of the newly installed Technical Director of the T&TFA, Anton Corneal.
Reached for response on the tournament Mohammed confirmed that following discussions by the Normalisation Committee-led T&TFA and its officials the Ascension Invitational were granted its endorsement letter which gives the competition the full backing of the local football body.
Mohammed also stated that two other tournaments, namely the Tiger Tank Under-20 Tournament and the Next Level Consulting Limited U-19 Community Invitational are expected to be informed by the end of the week if they too will be given the green light for their staging,
Edwards also confirmed that the Ascension Invitational received the endorsement letter from the T&TFA while they were also given the all-clear by the Ministry of Sports and Sports Company of T&T with regards to the health and safety guidelines and protocols to be implemented at the venues, with only the all-clear to be given by the Dr Terrance Deyalsingh's Ministry of Health, the only obstacle standing in the league's way.
An upbeat Edwards said, "We are anticipating a positive reply from the Ministry of Health soon on this as we have done all that we can to make sure that we have a very safe environment for all involved and hopefully by March 18 we will have the start of the league."
For this year's tournament, the ten participating clubs in the Premier Division are expected to be Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, T&T Defence Force, T&T Police, Malabar FC, Central FC, Deportivo Pt Fortin, Central Soccer World, AC Port-of-Spain, Cunupia FC and Real West Fort FC who will compete in two rounds of football providing 18 match days.
The additional venues to be used include the St James Police Barracks Grounds, St James; Diego Martin Sporting Complex, Diego Martin; Arima Municipal Stadium, Arima; and the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
While the focus, for now, is on the staging of the top flight ten-club competition, Edwards noted that discussions are also continuing with representatives of the six T&TFA regional associations inclusive of the Eastern Football Association (EFA), Central Football Association (CFA), Southern Football Association (SFA), Northern Football Association (NFA), Tobago Football Association (TFA), and the Eastern Counties Football Union (ECFU) to host their tournaments to the $1.5 million as well.
The Ascension League is also expected to be aired on SportsMax and two local television stations so far.