Fresh from capturing the 2012-2013 Digicel Pro League football title, Defence Force have pledged to stoutly defend their Digicel Pro Bowl trophy.
The knockout tournament is being played among Trinidad and Tobago’s eight professional football teams, all vying for the guaranteed pot of $100,000 which will go to the tournament winners.
The winners’ prize will also be enhanced by the addition of a percentage of the gates. In last year’s final, Defence Force scored an upset 5-2 victory over Neal & Massy Caledonia, the in-form team at the time, with wins in three major tournaments.
“We are the Pro League champions and we are going to prove it this year,” Army head-coach Ross Russell declared yesterday.
“We are also Pro Bowl Champions and we are going to defend it to the best of our ability.”
Yesterday’s Pro Bowl launch took place in the Digicel corporate box at the Queen’s Park Oval, where Wendy Alleyne, Digicel’s sponsorship and promotions manager announced an additional $2,000 in individual prizes for the tournament’s MVP, top scorer and best coach.
“No doubt, the aim of each team here is to challenge last year’s pro Bowl winners, Defence Force, in a bid to take home this trophy. Of course, the Defence Force will have its eye on the winners-takes-all prize of $100,000 in cash, the Bowl, and bragging rights,” Alleyne said. “This has definitely set the stage for an exciting tournament and one certainly to watch”.
She added: “For those fans who come to view the games, Digicel would be providing special prizes that can be won throughout the game such as ‘loudest fan; ‘most supportive team fan’; ‘most loyal Digicel Pro Bowl supporter’. There will also be a Facebook competition where a fan will win an all-inclusive lime for 20 friends for the final of the Digicel Pro Bowl.”
Meanwhile, Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene boasted of the Pro League being best in the Caribbean and measured its worth against the successes of Trinidad and Tobago teams in the Caribbean Champions Cup, and also the unprecedented export of players to overseas professional leagues in recent seasons.
“We are at the end of the season. This is the last hurrah,” stated Skeene, who urged clubs to give their best effort to win the last major piece of silverware this season.
The 2012-2013 tournament begins on Friday with double-headers in Port of Spain at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, and at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. Opening quarter-final matches put Defence Force against Pro League bottom finishers T&TEC, who the Army beat 4-0 last Friday. But Defence Force coach Russell is not underestimating the Electricity Boys.
“We won the Pro Bowl last year when we had won nothing before,” Russell said. “T&TEC are just like us last year because they have won nothing this season.”
Other match-ups will see Directv W Connection facing Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, North East Stars meeting St Ann’s Rangers and Central Football Club tackling Police. Caledonia technical director Jamaal Shabazz said that Caledonia are confident of advancing to the semis despite suffering a humiliating 4-1 Pro League loss to W Connection just about 10 days ago.
Shabazz said the W Connection match is also preparation for two upcoming playoff qualifying matches on May 20 and 22 for entry into the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League.
“It gives us a perfect preparation match-up going into the Caribbean playoffs against Portmore (Jamaica) for entry into the CONCACAF Champions League,” stated the jovial Shabazz, who boasted that Caledonia bought a team bus the last time they won the Digicel Pro Bowl and that after winning this year’s version, they wanted to buy a truck.
Army meets T&TEC in Pro Bowl opener.
By Nigel Simon (Guardian).
Newly-crowned Digicel T&T Pro League champions Defence Force will kick off its quest to join DirecTV W Connection, Joe Public and San Juan Jabloteh as two-time winners of the Digicel Pro Bowl when it faces T&TEC in the first match of a quarterfinal double-header at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, tomorrow from 6 pm.
This was determined when the draw for the competition, now in its fourth straight year of sponsorship from Digicel T&T Ltd, was made at the company’s corporate box, Queen’s Park Oval, Tragarete Road, yesterday.
During the unique draw, which featured eight Blackberry cellphones bearing the positioning of the clubs from one to eight in text message format, W Connection, winners in 2002 and 2004 and a three-time runner-up, was pitted against 2008 champion and last year’s beaten finalist Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA; North East Stars against 2007 beaten finalist St Ann’s Rangers, and newcomers Central FC versus Police.
The winners of tomorrow’s quarterfinal matches will do battle in the semifinals on Friday, May 24 at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya, while the final comes off on Wednesday, May 29 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo—the site of Defence Force’s 5–2 thumping of Caledonia last year—with the winner set to collect $100,000.
Dexter Skeene, chief executive officer of the Pro League, said that even though some may see it as the end of the season competition, it is in fact the beginning of a new and exciting phase of history of professional football here in T&T as they work to bring football to the communities with the development of fields in the various communities represented by the clubs, together with the Ministry of Sports and the Sport Company of T&T (SporTT).
Skeene also expressed his gratitude to Digicel for sharing the dream and for understanding the purpose and mission of the Pro League, not only its football journey but also the far bigger and wider picture. “This is the indisputable fact and message: through football and the Digicel T&T Pro League you can earn an honest living,” Skeene boasted.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s eight-team knockout competition, Wendy Alleyne, Sponsorship and Promotions manager, Digicel T&T Ltd, said her company was proud for the fourth consecutive year to be the title sponsor of the competition which has become one of the important events on the football calendar due to the fact that the participating teams display admirable sportsmanship and incredible talent which keep the fans coming back for more.
She added: “Digicel is happy that the teams have consistently shown a passion for the game and no doubt this commitment to the sport could only lead to opportunities for advancement as a forum where players can be selected to play the national, regional and international levels of the game.”
“Digicel is always mindful of the benefits that sport can bring to the youth and how it can change lives. It is this conviction that has propelled us to partner with organisations such as the T&T Pro League to engage in sport in a meaningful way.”
While stressing that her company strives to remain the biggest sponsor of football, not just nationally, but on the regional level as well, Alleyne acknowledged that the aim of each team will be to challenge last year’s winner Defence Force in a bid to take home the trophy and the winner-take-all US$100,000. Alleyne also showed that her company was not afraid to listen to the ideas of team administrators as she immediately doubled the individual awards for the “Top Scorer,”
“Most Valuable Player” and “Most Outstanding Coach” from $1,000, $1000 and $1,500 to $2,000, $2,000 and $3,000, respectively, when questioned by former club owner Michael Awai on why the rewards differ so much from the team prize.
In closing, Alleyne also urged the fans to come out and support their respective teams as Digicel would also be providing special prizes, that can be won throughout the game, for the “loudest fan,” “most supportive team fan,” “most loyal Digicel Pro Bowl supporter”. Also a Facebook competition for a prize of an all-inclusive lime for 20 friends for the final will be given to a lucky fan.
Venue: Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
Central FC vs Police, 6 pm - (D)
W Connection vs Caledonia, 8 pm - (C)
Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo
Defence Force vs T&TEC, 6 pm - (B)
North East Stars vs St Ann’s Rangers, 8 pm - (A)
Semifinals: Friday May 24:
Venue: Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya
A vs D = M, 6 pm
B vs C = N, 8 pm
Final: Wednesday May 29
Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, 8 pm
Top score: $2,000
Most Valuable Player: $2,000
Most Outstanding Coach: $3,000