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W Connection kicks off vs Pt Fortin
Record eight-time winners and defending champions of the First Citizens Cup, W Connection, will begin of its title against Point Fortin Civic in the feature match of an Abercromby Group double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva from 8.30 pm, tomorrow.
Two hours earlier, North East Stars versus Police FC, both teams yet to lift the title, are also in the Abercromby Group and will get the tournament going at the same venue.
Then on Sunday to complete Match Day One at the same Couva facility, MIC IT St Ann’s Rangers tackles 2013 and 2014 winners Central FC from 4 pm followed by a clash between three-time champion San Juan Jabloteh, and twice winners, Defence Force, who were beaten 3-1 in last year’s decider.
This was determined when the draw, which was done randomly among the ten Pro League clubs, took place at the VIP Lounge, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, along with the revealing of the new format of the competition, yesterday.
On completion of the draw, the teams in positions 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 were placed in the Abercromby Group, which meant No 1 Morvant Caledonia United, No 3 Pt Fortin Civic, No 5 North East Stars, No 7 Police FC and defending champions, No 9 W Connection will contest one of the round-robin groups while the Paria Group comprises No 2 Club Sando, No 4-San Juan Jabloteh, No 6 MIC IT St Ann’s Rangers, No 8 Central FC, No 10 Defence Force and will compete via the same formant, at the end of which the top two teams in each pool will meet in cross-over semifinals on July 13, ahead of the final on July 20.
In the past the First Citizens Cup was contested as a knockout competition, however, according to Julia Baptiste, Chief Executive Officer of the T&T Pro League, this year’s 18th edition, the 16th under First Citizens sponsorship, will mark the first time that the First Citizens Cup will be played using a mini-league format that would then produce the four clubs to advance to the semifinals.
Baptiste said, “Just as First Citizens continue to be innovative in their products, the Pro League wants to be innovative in the way it continues to shape the football landscape.
It will also mark the first time that the Pro League season will kick off with a Cup competition.
With respect to taking the league matches to the communities, Baptiste noted that the clubs continue to work with the respective Regional Corporations and the Sports Company of T&T (SporTT) to roll out the venue for each club that would help to make them become viable and ultimately sustainable.
To this effect, Baptiste praised the efforts of Member of Parliament for Laventille/East Morvant, Adrian Leonce whom she said has been of great assistance to the Morvant Caledonia United becoming a totally community-based club.
Baptiste also praised Minister of Sports Shamfa Cudjoe who has given her assurance that she would assist in every way possible to make community grounds accessible to the pro league clubs.
My Community, My League
Another first for this season is the league’s “My Community My League” initiative, in which the league will seek to unify its supporters, players, clubs and community.
In explaining this new scheme, Baptiste stated that the league will select instrumental players in each team and develop ambassadors who will serve as the face of the pro league.
This campaign will debut during the First Citizens Cup with the first initiative being to visit various schools within the communities where the clubs are located and host a Youth Empowerment Forum, which will afford the students to be up close and personal with the players as they share compelling life stories, positive advice and encouragement in the hope of inspiring the youths.
Baptiste noted that the schools will be asked to declare their favourite team and represent their community and become part of the growth of the T&T Pro League.
Going forward, the Pro League has also earmarked on ramping up its social media outreach, which will see its Instagram and Facebook pages becoming a lot more active.
The Pro League will also this season host a player development seminar during the First Citizens Cup which will be geared towards developing the player’s image and educating the player on understanding his personal brand.
Larry Olton, head brand and marketing, First Citizens noted that today more than ever, in the midst of challenges in the global, regional and national economies, our resilience as a people is being tested.
“Our local economic fortune negatively impacts sport in T&T, and the Pro League is no exception.
“In the face of these challenges it is our fervent belief in, and understanding of the value of sport to our youth, and more broadly, to national and social development, that the First Citizens Group remains committed to its role as a stakeholder, in the development of sport in T&T, and in particular, football.”
He highlighted that like all great teams, First Citizens Group values collaboration, and its partnership with the T&T Pro League has strengthened community sport and national development through football programmes for adults and youth across the country.
FORMER FIRST CITIZENS CUP (LEAGUE CUP) WINNERS
San Juan Jabloteh: 1999, 2000 & 2003
W Connection: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2015 & 2017
Defence Force: 2009 & 2016
Joe Public: 2010
Morvant Caledonia United: 2011 & 2012
Central FC: 2013 & 2014
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