Belikin manager Hilly Martinez, who is also the president of the National Olympic Committee, was guest of honor this morning at the Premier League of Belize (PLB) press conference at the Majestic Room of the Princess Hotel & Casino; that is because his firm, Belikin, according to Hilly, had only yesterday agreed to be the corporate sponsor of the upcoming PLB tournament.
After welcoming the press and listing the clubs participating in the 2013-2014 PLB Opening Season, President (formerly called Commissioner) Myito Perdomo announced that the PLB had secured its first ever corporate sponsor of its tournament, which will now be called the “Belikin Cup.” The Belikin sponsorship entails $50,000.00 for prizes (including a 1st prize of $30,000.00 and 2nd prize of $15,000.00) as well as a donation of Belikin products to each club for every home game of the season (10 cases per game). In return for the sponsorship, Belikin will enjoy exclusive status at all PLB games this season, meaning that only Belikin products will be sold at the games.
There will be 7 clubs participating in the new season, although 9 member clubs make up the Premier League, explained the Commissioner. 8 clubs took part in the last Closing tournament, with only Paradise/Freedom Fighters opting to look on. In the upcoming Opening Season, the Freedom Fighters will be in the mix, but two other clubs have decided to sit out this one, namely Placencia Assassins and San Felipe Barcelona.
The 7 clubs competing in the PLB 2013-2014 Opening Season, the Belikin Cup, and their respective home game stadiums, are therefore: Police United FC (defending champion; Isidoro Beaton Stadium); FC Belize (current sub-champion; MCC Grounds); Belize Defence Force FC (Carl Ramos Stadium); Belmopan Bandits FC (Isidoro Beaton Stadium); Verdes FC (Marshalleck Stadium); Paradise/Freedom Fighters (Toledo Union Field); and San Ignacio United FC (Norman Broaster Stadium).
The competition will follow a double round-robin format, with the top 4 teams then entering a home-and-away semifinal playoff, after which the two winners meet in a home-and-away championship series for the Belikin Cup. Barring any delays, the schedule has Game 1 of the championship series taking place on January 26, and Game 2 for the championship on February 1, 2013.
Some players of participating clubs were present and at the head table of the press conference along with the PLB Executive. Veterans Ismael John Trapp (Thompson) of San Ignacio United and Orlando “Leechi” Jimenez of Verdes FC both served notice to the “Big 4” teams – Police, FC Belize, Bandits and BDF – that one or more of them will not be making the playoff. Leechi has defected from the champion Police team where he played along with his brother Danny, and has joined his other brother Ricardo “Cheety” Jimenez on Verdes FC. Cheety played with BDF last season. It’s a significant move, because Verdes won its last championship with all three Jimenez brothers in their line-up back in 2008.
The “Big 4” are indeed loaded with talent, but with a reduced number of teams competing in the Belikin Cup, some “strengthening” will likely take place, as more good players will be available to the so-called weaker teams. Despite the stumbling start, this is already shaping up to be one “helluva” season. Play ball!!
Week 1 schedule:
Saturday, September 28
7:30 p.m. – Police United FC vs Belize Defence Force FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, September 29
3:30 p.m. – San Ignacio United FC vs Paradise/Freedom Fighters – Norman Broaster Stadium
4:00 p.m. – FC Belize vs Belmopan Bandits FC – MCC Grounds
(Verdes FC is idle in Week 1)
P.S. We just received word today from Paradise/Freedom Fighters owner/manager Patrick Flores that they have added former Placencia Assassins and National Team striker Ashley Torres to the Freedom Fighters line-up. Ashley is also a former MVP and leading goal scorer of the defunct Super League champions, Texmar Boys.