The league started with ten teams for the first time, but one team dropped out because it is “rebuilding.” This year’s teams include three from Virgin Gorda. It is the first time that league games have been played on both Tortola and VG during the same season.
“It is the first time we have done this, because of the aspect of trying to get the league completed in a period of time,” said BVIFA Second Vice President Marcus Butler.
There will be at least five to six matches played each week until the league is completed. Initially the league was scheduled to wrap up by December 15, but organisers are now planning for the finals in January.
“We are seeing a serious growing interest [in football], especially in Virgin Gorda,” Mr. Butler said.
There are so many individual players showing interest, that clubs are being formed on the sister island. The are also three new teams in this year’s league, which have proved to be contenders.
“Their performances are up to par with the league,” Mr. Butler said.
Another newcomer this year to the league is: youth.
“This is very important for us,” Mr. Butler said. “We are excited about it.”
On Sunday the under-20 VG Ballstars team was playing the veteran and defending league champions — Islanders. Mr. Butler said the younger team has stepped up its game and has become a competitive team.
The Ballstars would hold the Islanders scoreless in the first half and much of second half.
However in the end, the Islanders would come out on top, 1-0, over the VG Ballstars.
Mr. Butler pointed to the Ballstars’ bench, which didn’t have any room available. In fact, some players were sitting on the ground.
“As you can see the bench is filled with substitutes — you never used see that before,” Mr. Butler said. “It is good to see the youth is coming out in numbers.”
The league started as soon as the Wendol Williams Cup ended last month, which didn’t give organisers sufficient time to host a proper opening ceremony.
“We didn’t have enough time to do the official parade,” Mr. Butler said.
However, the BVIFA planned back-to-back events to keep interest in football at its peak. Ultimately, the goal is to keep playing football year-round.
“We were trying to keep the interest not only for the youth, but also the development of football in the BVI alive,” Mr. Butler said.
He added that to keep up with other Caribbean countries, football and leagues must be played continuously.
“This is what FIFA is asking us to do,” Mr. Butler said.
The next tournament will be the Terry Evans Cup in February or March. And after that event, the Virgin Gorda League is scheduled to start.
“We will keep on going,” Mr. Butler said. “It is good to be playing out here.”
He said there haven’t been any issues with the field, but hopes to have games played under the lights eventually. However, the BVIFA has been told that the lights would cost $500 for three hours.
“It’s a little too expensive to turn them on,” Mr. Butler said.
In other games, the Panthers beat the Lucian Stars, 2-1, on Saturday. And in the second game, One Love beat the Wolues, 4-0.
In the late game on Sunday, the Sugar Boyz beat Old Madrid, 3-0.
Matches continue this weekend on Tortola and Virgin Gorda.