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Pelican Challenge coming harder

Randy Bennett

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More teams – check. Higher quality players – check. Better facilities – check.
Come Sunday, football in Barbados will hit an unprecedented level.
If the rave reviews of last year’s inaugural LIME Pelican Football Challenge are anything to go by, patrons attending this year’s edition are in for a blast.
That’s according to tournament organizer Randy Harris, who said the improvements would help to significantly raise the quality of the competition.
In a telephone interview with WEEKEND SPORT yesterday, Harris said the two new teams in Emmerson Boyce/Fifth Avenue Bajan Elite and Sports Town Galaxy, along with the inclusion of players from the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP), would make the tournament more competitive.
“Also, this year, we had over 369 players who registered for the draft, which is a major increase from the [fewer] than 300 registered footballers we had last year,” Harris said.
“The availability of players from the BDFSP, who did not play in last year’s competition, will also help to improve the quality of the competition.”
Because of excavation at the National Stadium, where the majority of matches were played last year, an alternative venue had to be located, and Kensington Oval was chosen.
“The move was a necessary one,” Harris said. “After the hype which was created from the competition last year, if we had postponed it this year, it would have tarnished the [credibility] of the tournament.
“Hosting the tournament at Kensington is much more expensive, but it is definitely a better facility.
“It will also have its advantages as well because last year the players were complaining that the condition of the pitch at the National Stadium was preventing them from playing to the best of their ability.
“This time around, they will be able to exploit the good conditions available to them at Kensington.”
Harris said because of the increased expenses, there would be a slight increase in the admission fee, which moves to $15 from $10 for preliminary matches.
However, with three matches being played nightly, one more than last year, and better facilities available, he felt patrons would get more than their money’s worth.
“What patrons are getting is much more than the price of admission. We have made a special effort to keep our prices down and I think, in the end, those persons attending the games will be more than happy with what we are offering them,” Harris said.