It will be the return of the ‘Ghost of Christmases Past’, as the Kashif and Shanghai Organization, will coordinate the inaugural ExxonMobil International Futsal Festival. This was disclosed following the official launch yesterday at the GFF’s Boardroom.The event which is slated to run from December 27th-30th, will feature eight teams, three of which will come from Brazil, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. It will be contested in an initial group format.A Sao Paulo selection will represent Brazil, while Caledonia AIA and ZV All-Stars will play under the flag of Trinidad and Suriname respectively. Guyana will be represented by a National Selection, while Linden, Georgetown, East Coast and West Demerara will field All-Star teams.Winner of the event will pocket $1,200,000, the championship trophy and medals, while the runner-up and third place finisher will cop $600,000 and $300,000 respectively and the corresponding accolades and medals.The fourth-placed unit will collect $100,000 and a trophy. A venue is yet to be announced for the event, with the National Park and Cliff Anderson Sports Hall being mooted as possible destinations. Speaking at the ceremony, ExxonMobil Communications Advisor, Nicholas Yearwood, when asked which entity would have submitted the proposal for the competition disclosed, “It would have been submitted on the behalf of the Kashif and Shanghai by the Kashif and Shanghai.”According to Yearwood, “ExxonMobil welcomes all proposals, this stems from the activities we would have participated in in Linden which the Kashif and Shanghai group was influential in organizing as well. They decided that they will approach us on their end as an individual versus coming through the other entity NewEra. Once we receive that application, of course it goes through a review process aligning with our objective. Empowerment of the youth through sport is one of our focus areas for 2018 and then also just the track record of Kashif and Shanghai as an entertainment group and organizer, we decided that it would have been meeting our objectives to participate.”He initially stated, “We at ExxonMobil look for entities to partner with that have reputations that are upstanding with regards to the sport that they progress. For example, Kashif and Shanghai has been in the industry for many years and it was no doubt an easy decision for us to get behind and throw support behind them. We look forward to more years working with the Kashif and Shanghai and other entities for Futsal and Football and we thank you guys for the opportunity to be here.” ConsolidateMeanwhile, Guyana Football Federation (GFF) President Wayne Forde declared, “The GFF in its effort to consolidate and regularize our competition calendar, we are going to undertake to have two key events on our schedule for the end of year football activities. One will be the Super 16 tournament that we launched a week and a half ago and the second is an international Futsal competition. We are very pleased and excited about the support and partnership extended to us by the ExxonMobil group. We have seen that they are keen on working within communities, doing whatever they can within the measure of their sponsorship capacity to bring life to activities.”Quizzed as to why players were selected from notable street football teams to compete in a GFF-sanctioned international event, given the disputes surrounding the street format, Forde affirmed, “There is no form of push back on street football. There is an emphasis on the regulation of football. The unfortunate reality of football is that whether it’s played under our jurisdiction and under our guidance, whenever something goes wrong, it affects the image of football and as the custodians of the sport, we are responsible and we expect our stakeholders to also be responsible. We are the only body that is constitutionally equipped to adjudicate any conflict that occurs on or off the field of football.” He further declared, “Unless our stakeholders recognize that and embrace that there will always be conflict so we are not pushing back any form of the game, for a matter of fact we want to promote every form of the game but what we really want is that all forms of football to be organized in a regulated environment. We interpret the GFF constitution word for word and it says that the GFF is responsible for the regulation of football in all its forms in all its jurisdiction of Guyana and FIFA recognizes that and CONCACAF recognizes that and that is our position on the issue.”Asked if the GFF has finalized a venue for the staging of the event, Forde said, “We have submitted our applications to both venue custodians, there are some challenges in one of the applications in particular but we are working through that engaging different stakeholders at various levels to see how swiftly and amicably we can resolve those challenges.”Something specialMinister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton, stated, “I can’t help feeling something special when I am in a group where I know somewhere in one of those vessels in their body something runs through that is common among all of us and that common thing is football. I look to both members of the Kashif and Shanghai Organization, and sometimes I would want to think whether its football or blood that really runs in their veins. But it’s good to have them on board, it’s good to have ANSA McAl here and of course ExxonMobil.” According to Norton, “All in all I am happy to be here. I am glad to know that the football is spreading, that it’s not only a Georgetown- based team playing against overseas but it is much more extended. I would have been much happier if it could have been right across the length and breadth of Guyana and the way things are going now in football, I would not be surprised to know that the team that would represent Guyana would have players from our hinterland location because we know football is an ingrained passion and we are looking forward to the day when every effort will be made to utilize that potential and develop it to a level where being in any part of Guyana gives you that opportunity to represent Guyana at tournament of this level.”Asked if the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall will be made available for the event, given its inaccessibility for local Futsal tournaments, Norton said, “Not in a position to answer that question directly at this point in time but certainly in the future. Taking into consideration the fact that the National Sports Commission is the decision making body that arrived at that decision we hope that we will be in a better position to answer that question.”Asked if he can override the decision of the NSC given that that entity falls under his purview, Norton stated that analysis of all the facts must occur before such a decision is taken. The tournament is also sponsored by ANSA McAl under its Stag Beer and I-Cool Water Brands.
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