Trendsetter Hawks FA attacker Malachi Celestine believes the inaugural Tiger Tanks Under-20 Men’s Invitational Football Tournament can serve as a pillar of hope for young men who may have turned to a life of crime, owing to the absence of sport for the past two years.
Celestine, who hails from Sea Lots, Port of Spain, was among a host of club representatives present at the National Cricket Centre in Couva on Thursday for the competition’s official launch.
The 19-year old footballer is eager to resume domestic play. He believes it’s a golden opportunity for youngsters to get back involved in sport and rid themselves of any negative traits they may have picked up during the lengthy time away.
Sport, more so contact sport, was only given the green light to resume, with restrictions, in January, by the Ministry of Sport and Community Development and Ministry of Health, after a two-year ban because of covid19.
Celestine, who attended East Mucurapo Secondary, hopes this tournament serves as a catalyst for change for some young men.
He said, “I see this competition as taking youths out of the ghetto and putting them back into society in a positive light. It might make a lot of youths change their mind because a lot of them thought that football was not going to start back any time soon.
“It (downtime) was tough on the guys (young players) with all this (killing) that’s taking place in Trinidad. Everybody had to stay home and we couldn’t come out and play ball. So this should, hopefully, inspire more young players, to return to sport and change their ways.”
Caledonia AIA U20 midfielder Nathaniel Babwah, who hails from Morvant, shared similar sentiments and also anticipates the start of the inaugural tourney.
The competition kicks off in Tobago on April 2 and features 15 teams; ten from Trinidad and five from Tobago.
“I am ready. It was hard not playing football for two years, because of covid19. But I am grateful that this opportunity has come around and I am ready to represent my team. I want to get Caledonia back to the top.
“I also agree with Malachi that the tournament, and more like these, will help young men return to sport,” said Babwah, a Malick Secondary graduate.
The tournament kicks off with the opening round of matches at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago on April 2.
Fifteen teams: ten from Trinidad (group one) and five from the sister-isle (group two), vie for top honours. Group two kick starts the tourney while group one begins their campaign, one week later, in Trinidad.
The winner of each group will play each other, home and away, to determine the tournament champion. Games will be played on weekends with over 60 expected to be contested over the next three months.
Tiger Tanks U20 Invitational Football Tournament Teams
Group One – Caledonia AIA, Club Sando FC, Petit Valley/Diego Martin FC, QPCC FA, Trendsetter Hawks FA, Central FC, Defence Force FC, San Juan Jabloteh FC and W Connection.
Group Two – Bethel United, St Clair Coaching School, Youth Stars United, FC Tobago Phoenix and Stokely Vale FC
SOURCE: T&T Newsday