At long last, there will be professional football in T&T after almost a year of inactivity. The T&T Pro League will kick off with the First Citizens Cup tomorrow night at the Diego Martin Sports Complex in Bagatelle.
Twelve teams, including newcomers 1976 Tobago Phoenix, which the league sought as a representative team from the sister-isle, as well as Cunupia FC, the T&T Super League campaigners, will battle for a $75,000 cash prize, a trophy and bragging rights, which are currently being held by 2018 winners Central FC.
At a launch on Wednesday, Pro League Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Julia Baptiste said the teams - W Connection, North East Stars, Defence Force, Morvant Caledonia United, Police FC, Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, Tiger Tanks Club Sando, Point Fortin Civic, San Juan Jabloteh, Cunupia FC, 1976 Phoenix and Central FC, have been drawn in two groups - Immortelle and Abercrombie - of six teams each and they will play in a round-robin format, from which the top two teams will advance to the semifinals.
Baptiste noted that the seven-week First Citizens tournament will see all the Friday night matches being played at the Complex. Other matches, however, will be played at different venues across T&T.
According to Baptiste, the decision to take the Friday matches to the Diego Martin venue was to impact the many communities that exist there.
"These communities were being targeted for a while now, so we have decided to use this opportunity. We are taking top-flight football to the people who are interested in supporting their players and the sport," Baptiste explained.
A clash between Morvant Caledonia and Cunupia FC will get the tournament underway at 6 pm, following which the Defence Force and defending champions Central FC will meet at 8 pm.
The Cup tournament is scheduled to finish on December 7, after which the start of the Pro League will take place six days later (December 13). Baptiste said the restart of the Pro League has been a welcome one for the many players who are raring and ready to go.
It will run for seven rounds, ending on May 31, 2020 and it is expected to feature a high level of competition. Baptiste yesterday paid special tribute to First Citizens, noting they have been extremely supportive to them amid the financially difficult times.
The Pro League boss told the audience it was a long hard ride for top-flight football in T&T but they are finally here to start back the league.
2019 T&T Pro League Teams
W Connection, North East Stars, Defence Force, Morvant Caledonia United, Police FC, Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, Tiger Tanks Club Sando, Point Fortin Civic, San Juan Jabloteh, Cunupia FC, 1976 Phoenix and Central FC.