The football season shifted into high gear on Tuesday morning when broadband service provider Flow announced the return of the highly anticipated Flow Champions Cup. After a one-year hiatus, the premier national knock-out competition is back with teams vying for their share of a $2.3 million cash prize pool. For the first time in the history of the competition, teams will play night games for the semi finals and finals. The competition will be played over 8 weeks starting on September 11.
The news came at the launch of the competition held on Tuesday, September 3rd at Barbican football field, where executives of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica and title sponsors Flow, highlighted plans for the 2013 season which kicks off on September 11.
The Most Honourable Edward Seaga, Chairman of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica, the organization that administers the competition, said “After a lapse of a couple of years, the national knockout competition has returned with sponsorship by Flow. This islandwide competition is a very popular fixture in football. The clubs and spectators are looking forward to resumption.”
The Flow Champions Cup is a knock out competition among 26 teams – the 14 parish champions and 12 Premier League teams. Matches will be played in 5 rounds at venues across the island, giving fans and club supporters the opportunity to support their home or favourite teams as they vie for the national championship title.
“We believe that The Flow Champions Cup is a very important component of the football calendar being the only truly national competition at this level,” said Donovan White, vice president sales and marketing for Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited, operators of the Flow brand. “The Flow Champions Cup is one of our many commitments to economic and social development through sports in communities across Jamaica, and this year we have integrated new elements to the overall prize package.”
For the first time in the history of the competition, the Semi Finals and Finals of the Flow Champions Cup will be played as night football events, with matches being broadcast live on CVM TV (Flow Channel 112), with delayed broadcast on Flow TV Channel 100 a few days later.
The participating teams will vie for the championship trophy and a cash prize of $1 million dollars. In addition, all teams reaching the quarter finals round will receive a cash award. There are also cash prizes for the Most Valuable Player, Top Goal Scorer and Winning Coach.
Speaking on behalf of his club, Brian Rose, Manager of Tivoli Gardens looks forward to winning the prize again this year, having claimed the championships in 2011. “All clubs face financial challenges and having a prize of $1M this early in the season, will go a long way to help our preparations for the rest of the season,” he said. Rose suggests that his team will not give up the title without a strong fight. “The Flow Champions Cup is a thrilling competition to be involved with. You have to bring your ‘A’ game or else you will get knocked out by what might be considered an underdog team.”
At the launch, the matchups for the 10 games of the 1st round were drawn. These games will be played on Wednesday September 11th and Thursday September 12th. The clubs that are the 14 parish champions and the bottom 6 clubs from the Premier League will compete for a place in the 2nd round. Following these games the 2nd round fixtures will be determined by a draw on September 13th, with the 10 winning teams advancing joined by the 6 top teams from the Premier League. The teams will play 8 matches on Wednesday September 18 and Thursday September 19th to secure places in the Quarterfinal round which fixtures will be drawn on September 26th.
In a new feature of the competition the 4 quarterfinals games will be played as 2 double header matches on October 2nd and 3rd. The Semi Finals of the Flow Champions Cup will be played as a double header match event Monday, October 14th with the Championship match on Monday, October 28th.
The Flow Champions Cup teams are also beneficiaries of additional training as the season kicks off with the FLOW/ESPN Football Master Class for coaches, goal keepers and forwards conducted by Robbie Earl and Aaron Lawrence.
“The Master Class s extremely important to Flow and our international broadcast partner ESPN because it enables us to play our part in the further development of our local football players as they continue to hone their skill for this and other competitions,” said White.
White acknowledged the partnerships with other media and corporate sponsors who have demonstrated their own commitment to football by coming on board for the competition this year. Media and production partners are CVM TV, KLAS ESPN Radio, The Jamaica Observer and Phase 3. Locker Room Sports and Addidas are providing uniforms and match balls for all 26 teams. Addidas has also agreed to provide a 2nd set of uniforms for the teams that reach the semi-finals of the competition.