Technical Director of the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils’ Football Classic, Mark Forde (right), looks on as Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, conducted the draw yesterday for the 2017 tournament.

FOOTBALL CLASSIC LAUNCHES

David Thompson tournament to be felt through the communities

“Needed now more than ever!”

These are the words of Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, as he spoke yesterday about the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils’ Football Classic when the annual tournament was officially launched at the Warrens Office Complex. With the island currently undergoing a tumultuous time as it relates to the recent rise in gun violence, Blackett believes the tournament, which was conceptualised as a community-building initiative, has become even more relevant than it was in the past.

With 29 other teams on the hunt this year in a bid to ensure that St. George South does not do the double when the 2017 edition of the competition kicks off later this month, a special motivation outside of the $30 000 first-place prize has been set behind the tournament. With 76 games scheduled to be played over a period of about three months, the annual competition is set to open with a double-header on September 17.

Speaking during yesterday’s launch, Minister Blackett explained that it fell under his ministry’s mandate to develop the country at the community level and that the tournament, along with other programmes, had its part to play in doing so. “I know that currently there appears to be heightened, serious and worrying restlessness among a number of our youth and so to my mind, and shared too by officials in my ministry, the David Thompson Constituency Councils’ Football Tournament is needed now more than ever. It will serve as a stabilising mechanism in our communities. I must admit that I recognise a felt need for more specific national, age-appropriate recreational and social activity for our youth. This tournament therefore seeks to fill a void for our energetic youth, some of whom may be feeling marginalised or even excluded from mainstream social activity. My ministry will keep striving to address issues of marginalisation and social exclusion among other constituents and plans to continue doing so in every sphere imaginable – be it through Information Technology training, dance and the creative arts or other innovative interventions emerging from within the communities themselves,” Blackett said.

As has become customary with the tournament, each of the 30 constituency teams are required to participate in a community project and this year, Minister Blackett and his ministry have found it fit to enhance the communication with those playing in the tournament and their respective communities. To this end, the ministry will be undertaking a consultation involving team officials, players, community leaders and block leaders from all 30 of the constituencies along with the Royal Barbados Police Force and other parties in a bid to get to the bottom of the problem.

Blackett explained that although it was not a national consultation, it was a national problem and every attempt had to be made to right the wrongs in our society. “The aim is to bring about a level of harmony and stabilisation in our communities through the involvement of those leaders who are based at the community level and have daily interaction with all of the problems associated with the communities. This consultation will inform my ministry on the way forward on how to counter the impact of crime in the communities, with especially the gun being the preferred weapon of choice,” he said.

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