FRANCIS RIVAS is indeed cut from unfashionable cloth.
Gone are the days when the real “community leaders” ran sports competitions that lifted those around them.
Back then, there was the Mervyn “Mervina” League and the popular Curepe Football League run by “Dads” McLean. At Aranguez, Bissoon Birsingh ran the PYM League and the Eddie Hart League is still going strong in Tunapuna. Several others have done the same throughout the country.
Not just time, but change, development and indifferent attitudes by both sponsors and people in general to sport, has caught up with the likes of Rivas, who ran the Francis Rivas Football League for some 30 years and also a women’s cricket competition for some 16 years. Like former Government minister Eddie Hart, Rivas earned recognition some years ago when he was awarded a national award for service rendered to the country.
His “baby” in recent times has been the Francis Rivas School Girls Cricket League, giving troubled girls from the St Jude’s home, as well as girls teams from Morvant/Laventille, Diego Martin and Holy Name and St Joseph’s Convent the chance to compete and even grow from the experience of meeting each other.
“We used to play in front of the grand stand,” Rivas recalled, “because there was nothing there.”
Many times Rivas provided his own trophy, while at other times organisations such as Republic Bank and individuals like motivational speaker Dion La Foucade have stepped forward.
Beginning today , Rivas will stage the Francis Rivas School Girls Cricket League for the very last time. The league will be opened with a round-robin tournament. The Dion La Foucade Trophy is at stake, and the former banker and inspirational speaker will meet the players before the 1 (p.m). start, which takes place at Queen’s Park Savannah West, opposite the US Embassy on Marli Street.
Competing will be St Joseph’s Convent Port of Spain, two Diego Martin North Secondary teams, Holy Name Convent and possibly Morvant/Laventille Secondary.
“This year is the last for me,” Rivas declared. “I did not have it last two years, but some of the schools wanted to play, so I decided to do it one more time.”
After this season, there will be no more Francis Rivas events. Gone, like the Mervina League which lit up the Queen’s Park Savannah, and PYM League at Aranguez. At least for Tacarigua, Eddie Hart football is still going strong.