THE Alliance Porus Football Festival is up and running after a two-year absence and one of the conceptualisers, former Jamaica Football Federation President Crenston Boxhill, is extremely pleased that the competition is back.
“Porus is a football-loving community and we wanted to do something to get the community involved and provide some form of entertainment for them,” Boxhill told the Jamaica Observer.
The tournament, organised by Boxhill and his friend Karam Persad, started on June 5 and is scheduled to be completed on July 17.
“Both Karam and myself are football-minded people. Karam was a good player and we travel all over the island to watch football and we have the passion for football,” Boxhill pointed out.
“It is now a calendar event for the entire region. We have three teams from Clarendon and one from St Elizabeth so it is now a regional tournament though it carries the name Porus,” he added.
Boxhill, who was in charge of the nation’s football from 2003-2007, said this will be the fifth staging of the event in Manchester after it was started seven years ago.
“It started out as a 12-team tournament and just prior to the pandemic it was 16 teams. Now, it is 20 and it was only 20 because we insisted we were not going to take any more teams this year. Next year we will see how to accommodate more teams,” said Boxhill.
“It has grown significantly over time; the last time we had something like 6,000 at the finals. What we do now on the final day [is] we tend to create a kind of festival atmosphere,” said Boxhill.
According to the former JFF boss, the last tournament had members of the last Reggae Boyz squad that qualified for the World Cup.
“Warren Barrett, Walter Boyd and Pepe Goodison played against an ‘Entertainers and Celebrities’ team, and that went extremely well as a lot of these players were seeing these players for the first time in real life,” Boxhill explained.
He continued: “And of course we have a concert at the end, and people like Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica, Lieutenant Stitchie, Bounty Killa, Romaine Virgo and Charlie Blacks —quite a few entertainers graced the stage over the years.”
He also noted that there will be games before the final, including two All-Stars teams comprising former national players and another match involving two schoolboy teams in daCosta Cup champions Garvey Maceo and Glenmuir High.
Trinity United are reigning champions, with the first-placed team walking away with $150,000 while $75,000 is warded to the runners-up.
“We were able to attract corporate sponsorship and so Sagicor, through their brand Alliance, have come on board and they are the title sponsors,” explained Boxhill.
“Each team is entitled to have three Premier League players in their squad. It’s a good thing to have schoolboys playing alongside former national players, national players, and Premier League players. It’s a good thing for the development of our young players,” he noted.
“Football is such a unifying force. It brings people together; it brings communities together that might not be seeing eye to eye. So far the tournament has been incident-free. This is our fifth year [and] we have not had once incident worth mentioning,” said Boxill.
“It also provides a lot for the economy also. You know with football you have the cane man, the peanut man, the little vendors selling fry chicken — and it generates income for the community.
“It’s a family entertainment. As you know in Jamaica now, you have entertainment where the children can go but the parents can’t and vice versa, but this is an entertainment package where the entire family can attend as one.
“We have discussions with the entertainers and the selectors about the language and we keep it healthy and family oriented,” he concluded.
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