FOR one Pro League football team, October 5 will be a special day. They will have an $80,000 cheque in hand, a beautiful crystal statue, and the pleasure of being crowned the 2012 First Citizen Cup champions.
Yesterday, the 13th edition of Trinidad and Tobago's most popular knockout football competition was launched at the Queen's Park Oval. Action will kick off tomorrow when holders Caledonia AIA begin the defence of their title. Caledonia will face last year's beaten finalists T&TEC in the 8 p.m. second match of a Hasely Crawford Stadium double-header.
Earlier at 6 p.m., St Ann's Rangers will face North East Stars in the opening match. There is also a quarter-final double-header in Marabella at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, where six-time First Citizens Cup champions W Connection face Police at 6 p.m., while South football fans will get a first look at the new Central Football Club team when they face Defence Force in the 8 p.m. second match.
Last Year, Caledonia won the First Citizens Cup for the first time when they beat T&TEC by a 2-1 margin.
And AIA head coach Jamaal Shabazz was already boasting yesterday that they were looking past T&TEC and forward to a semi-final meeting with North East Stars who shocked them 3-1 in their Pro League opening match last week. Stars coach Angus Eve countered that he too would beat Rangers and then he was looking forward to beating Caledonia AIA again.
"Jamaal....I beat him in Guyana. I don't know how to beat him again," former national footballer Eve quipped.
At yesterday's launch, it was revealed that the competition's winners will pocket $80,000, while the beaten finalists will win $20,000, all part of a $350,000 sponsorship package from the local bank.
Speaking at the launch, Warren Sookdhar, Chief Information Officer at First Citizens, confirmed the financial organisation's continued commitment to the competition which was first played in 2000 when San Juan Jabloteh defeated Defence Force 1-0.
"First Citizens is again proud to be collaborating with the TT Pro League. This 11- year partnership has promoted the development of raw talent and as the only true local bank, we are committed to enhancing our youth through their development in education and sport," Sookdhar said, while urging competitors to play fair but fierce.
"I share a quote from Vince Lombardi who said: "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?"
Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene said: "What drives, inspires and motivates all of us who remain dedicated and committed to the Pro League? I believe it is an inner knowledge that through football, each and everyone of us involved in this mission that is professional football in Trinidad and Tobago , has chosen to make a positive difference in the lives of the young men and women, and communities, and by extension Trinidad and Tobago."