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Ferguson awaits TTFA approval for Ascension Caribbean Football Cup

“As a re­sult of this un­prece­dent­ed move, the tour­na­ment re­ceived over­whelm­ing sup­port from the com­mu­ni­ty of La Hor­quet­ta, Ari­ma, and St James

“More­over, sup­port­ers from var­i­ous parts of T&T com­mut­ed to the var­i­ous venues to see their favourite teams play through­out the tour­na­ment with the La Hor­quet­ta Recre­ation Grounds see­ing pa­trons in the hun­dreds every Fri­day night since the tour­na­ment com­menced in March.”

Fer­gu­son end­ed, “The tour­na­ment al­so played its role cul­tur­al­ly in ex­pos­ing the world to the rich and au­then­tic cul­ture of T&T, in­clu­sive of dancers, cheer­lead­ers, rhythm sec­tion, and en­ter­tain­ment pro­vid­ed by lo­cal artiste af­ter the Fri­day night games.”

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Close to a month since sub­mit­ting a pro­pos­al to T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA) Nor­mal­i­sa­tion Com­mit­tee chair­man Robert Hadad seek­ing ap­proval for the in­au­gur­al $2.6 mil­lion-bud­get­ed As­cen­sion Caribbean Foot­ball Tour­na­ment, which in­volved teams from Ja­maica, Bar­ba­dos, Grena­da and T&T, Richard Fer­gu­son says he is yet to get a re­sponse.

Last Fri­day, Ter­minix La Hor­quet­ta Rangers which is owned by Fer­gu­son, won the 2022 edi­tion of the As­cen­sion Foot­ball Tour­na­ment’s top prize of $100,000with the 2019 in­au­gur­al win­ners De­fence Force got $50,000.00) for fin­ish­ing sec­ond and Po­lice FC got $20,000 for its third place per­for­mance.

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Ac­cord­ing to the re­quest, the tour­na­ment would be called, “The As­cen­sion Caribbean Cup” and it would com­prise six teams, the top three from the As­cen­sion Tour­na­ment of T&T 2022 Rangers, De­fence Force, and Po­lice as well as the top clubs from Ja­maica, Bar­ba­dos, and Grena­da.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

The re­lease not­ed: The tour­na­ment will not re­place, re­strict or sub­sti­tute any sanc­tioned and ex­ist­ing leagues un­der the TTFA or any Con­ca­caf Tour­na­ment, and the teams will not be re­quired to pay any reg­is­tra­tion fees to play in the tour­na­ment as the clubs would be in­vit­ed to par­tic­i­pate

Un­der the As­cen­sion Caribbean Cup which will have five days of tele­vised match­es to be shown on Sports­max, TV6, and CNC3, the top team will walk away with US$20,000 while the sec­ond-placed team will col­lect US$10,000, and the third-placed fin­ish­er, $US5,000

His let­ter to the T&TFA dat­ed Ju­ly 8, 2022, added: “We seek per­mis­sion to op­er­ate an As­cen­sion Caribbean Cup Tour­na­ment in T&T which will run over a pe­ri­od of eight days, be­gin­ning on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 21, 2022, and all match­es will take place at the Phase II La Hor­quet­ta Recre­ation Ground, La Hor­quet­ta, com­pris­ing of two groups of three clubs with a se­mi-fi­nal and fi­nal.”

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia Sports about the ad­van­tages of run­ning the As­cen­sion Foot­ball Caribbean Cup, Fer­gu­son boast­ed that it will be the first time that lo­cal pro­fes­sion­al clubs will be able to com­pete against oth­er pro­fes­sion­al Caribbean clubs in over five years since the T&TFA clubs were de­barred from com­pet­ing in the Caribbean Foot­ball Union and Con­ca­caf Club com­pe­ti­tions for be­ing non-com­pli­ant.

He added, “The As­cen­sion Caribbean Cup can al­so be viewed as form­ing part of the re­ward for the top three lo­cal clubs of the As­cen­sion Tour­na­ment of T&T for their suc­cess through­out the 2022 As­cen­sion Tour­na­ment

With re­spect to its ad­van­tages, Fer­gu­son said the tour­na­ment would be broad­cast­ed live on lo­cal and re­gion­al tele­vi­sion as well as be­ing live streamed on the tour­na­ment’s web­site and oth­er stream­ing plat­forms on the in­ter­net

“In ad­di­tion, it would give play­ers the op­por­tu­ni­ty to show­case their tal­ent and in­crease their chances of be­ing se­lect­ed by in­ter­na­tion­al clubs and rep­re­sent­ing their re­spec­tive coun­tries in­ter­na­tion­al­ly, as well as im­prove the over­all cal­i­bre of foot­ball be­ing played lo­cal­ly and re­gion­al­ly, gen­er­ate in­come and cre­ate em­ploy­ment for sup­port staff as­so­ci­at­ed with the tour­na­ment.

“Ul­ti­mate­ly, the As­cen­sion Caribbean Cup is geared to­ward cre­at­ing a new and ex­cit­ing com­pe­ti­tion with­in the re­gion, but we have Mr Hadad, the chair­man of the T&TFA Nor­mal­i­sa­tion Com­mit­tee re­gard­ing ap­proval to run the As­cen­sion Caribbean Cup since Fri­day, Ju­ly 8, 2022, and have yet to re­ceive a re­sponse from him.”

Ad­mit­ting that with every pass­ing day the cost of stag­ing the com­pe­ti­tion in­creas­es due to trav­el air­fare and ac­com­mo­da­tion, Fer­gu­son said they re­main hope­ful that they will re­ceive a favourable re­sponse from the T&TFA as there is no jus­ti­fi­able rea­son to de­lay the progress in foot­ball that is be­ing made by the As­cen­sion Tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers.

With re­gards to the suc­cess­ful stag­ing of the 2022 As­cen­sion Tour­na­ment which saw the re­turn of crowds to lo­cal foot­ball in mass num­bers, Fer­gu­son said the tour­na­ment sought to pro­vide an av­enue for lo­cal foot­ball clubs in T&T to par­tic­i­pate in a league and pro­vide them with a plat­form to show­case their tal­ents af­ter two years of in­ac­tiv­i­ty in lo­cal foot­ball as a re­sult of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic which be­gan at the start of 2019.

Among the suc­cess­es of the just con­clud­ed com­pe­ti­tion, Fer­gu­son point­ed out that each game was broad­cast­ed live on lo­cal and re­gion­al tele­vi­sion and was live streamed which brought tremen­dous ex­po­sure to the tour­na­ment as well as pre­sent­ed a dis­play of the tal­ents and abil­i­ties lo­cal­ly, re­gion­al­ly, and in­ter­na­tion­al­ly.

In terms of fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits, Fer­gu­son not­ed that the tour­na­ment il­lus­trates that foot­ball in T&T is fi­nan­cial­ly sus­tain­able and vi­able, as the tour­na­ment was suc­cess­ful­ly run with­out Gov­ern­ment sub­ven­tions and do­na­tions with games be­ing held at Phase II La Hor­quet­ta Recre­ation Ground, the Ari­ma Velo­drome, and the St James Po­lice Train­ing Bar­racks where the or­gan­is­ers charged pa­trons a rea­son­able fee to gain ac­cess to view the games at these var­i­ous lo­ca­tions

“And due to the over­whelm­ing sup­port from pa­trons over the 18 weeks of the tour­na­ment, the or­gan­is­ers were able to re­mit to the ten par­tic­i­pat­ing clubs a to­tal of $250,000 in ap­pear­ance fees, that is $25,000 for par­tic­i­pat­ing in the tour­na­ment for which there were no reg­is­tra­tion fees re­quired

“A for­mer hock­ey play­er in his younger days, but now an avid foot­ball sup­port­er and club own­er, Fer­gu­son al­so point­ed out that foot­ball is the most pop­u­lar in T&T and the tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers re­alise foot­ball was re­moved from the com­mu­ni­ties and usu­al­ly held in var­i­ous sta­di­ums which cre­at­ed chal­lenges for sup­port­ers to at­tend, and as such, a de­ci­sion was made to bring foot­ball back to the com­mu­ni­ties where the sup­port and fan base was ex­pect­ed to grow.

“As a re­sult of this un­prece­dent­ed move, the tour­na­ment re­ceived over­whelm­ing sup­port from the com­mu­ni­ty of La Hor­quet­ta, Ari­ma, and St James

“More­over, sup­port­ers from var­i­ous parts of T&T com­mut­ed to the var­i­ous venues to see their favourite teams play through­out the tour­na­ment with the La Hor­quet­ta Recre­ation Grounds see­ing pa­trons in the hun­dreds every Fri­day night since the tour­na­ment com­menced in March.”

Fer­gu­son end­ed, “The tour­na­ment al­so played its role cul­tur­al­ly in ex­pos­ing the world to the rich and au­then­tic cul­ture of T&T, in­clu­sive of dancers, cheer­lead­ers, rhythm sec­tion, and en­ter­tain­ment pro­vid­ed by lo­cal artiste af­ter the Fri­day night games.”