BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 20, 2015–The 4th Annual Smart 13 & under Football Tournament kicked off on Saturday at the Yabra Field with 12 teams participating in Week 1 games of the single round-robin tournament.
In the opening ceremonies, after welcoming the twelve teams assembled and in uniforms, Smart representative Anthony Mahler said they had already seen the need for another tournament to accommodate the missing players from last year who are now over 14 and can no longer play in the 13 & under tournament. We couldn’t agree more. He said they are working on finding sponsorship for a Smart 14 – 17 Tournament next.
According to Mahler, the idea for the first Smart 13 & under resulted from discussions between himself and tournament coordinators Tyrone “T-Bone” Muschamp and Stanley “Jordan” Reneau, when they figured on what they could do “to make a difference in football.” With team sponsorship always a problem for youth coaches, registration in the Smart 13 & under is completely free, and uniforms are provided free of cost to all participating teams, as well as loaning a rotating stock of boots and shin guards to the players at every game. Mahler, who is the Director of Marketing for the FFB national team program, said he believed the Smart 13 & under is likely the best run tournament in the country, and it has now been sanctioned by the FFB.
Veteran star player and father of national team star striker Deon McCaulay, David “Manu” McCaulay, was on hand to make the ceremonial first kick along with Anthony Mahler, and then the games began.
The tournament has traditionally been played at the MCC, but due to delays in negotiations with the National Sports Council, Week 1 games had to be played at the Yabra field instead. However, the remainder of the tournament will be back at the MCC, starting this coming Saturday.
The loss of star players to the age barrier has resulted in no team yet repeating as champion of this young tournament. Brown Bombers won in 2012, Hattieville in 2013, City Boys in 2014, and now 2015 is under way.
The games are 20-20 (20 minute halves with 5 minute intermission), all players on the game roster must see action in the game, and all teams get to play each week of the tournament, making it a full day of 6 games each Saturday.
Week 1 results:
In game 1 this past Saturday, City Boys and Rising Stars played to a 0-0 draw. Game 2 between Brown Bombers and Collet Strikers was also a nil-nil affair. In game 3, a new team Face of Belize defeated Heights FC, 3-1. Ajani Vaughn scored 2 and Jose Zetina got 1 for Face of Belize, while Curtis August, Jr. scored for Heights FC. Game 4 saw Young Warriors and Charlston FC playing to a 0-0 stalemate. In game 5, it was Hattieville Youth FC with the 1-nil win over London Strikers, on a goal by Jaheed Baptist. And in the final game of the day, game 6 saw Ladyville Jaguars taking the 1-nil victory over Third World, on a goal by D’Joh Canelo.
Already, in this new crop this year, some bright young talents are emerging. It’s amazing how quickly the kids grow and develop from year to year. The talk of the ball park on Saturday was this little kid from Ladyville Jaguars, who played with them last year. He is still only 11, but his year he looks like he will be “kicking up dust.” Come out on Saturday football fans and watch the future stars “buss out” before your very eyes.
Week 2 games at the MCC:
Saturday, April 25
9:30 a.m. – London Strikers vs Ladyville Jaguars
10:15 a.m. – Young Warriors vs Third World
11:00 a.m. – Hattieville Youth FC vs Charlston FC
11:45 a.m. – Collet Strikers vs Rising Stars
12:30 p.m. – Face of Belize vs City Boys
1:15 p.m. – Brown Bombers vs Heights FC