A SERIES of community sporting events is being planned for Diego Martin and its environs, starting in mid-April and running for eight weeks. Shurland Hartley, who heads the West Penn Sports and Cultural Organisation, says the objective of the series is to provide opportunities for recreational sport, and in the process, keep young people in the communities away from crime.

The largest and longest-running event will be the West Penn/RBC Youth District Football Tournament. Starting on April 12, it will be contested in two age-group divisions and run on a league basis. Eight teams are registered for the Under-16 division- Belle Vue/Bournes Road, Blue Basin/Bagatelle, Carenage/Pt Cumana United, Patna/River Estate, Petit Valley/Simeon United, St James United, St Lucien United and St Michael’s School for Boys. The same teams, minus St James and Belle Vue/Bournes Road will contest the Under-19 division.

Matches will be played at the Patna/River Estate ground, the Carenage Community Centre on Haig Street, the Belle Vue Community Centre, Diego Martin North Secondary and at Nelson Mandela Park in St Clair. RBC is footing costs associated with the running of the tournament as well as cash prizes. The champion Under-19 team will receive $5,000, while the Under-16 winners will collect $4,000.

Additionally, running enthusiasts will have their chance to participate in two events on May 10. The “Diego Run” will consist of a 5K race from the Diego Martin North Secondary School and back, as well as a half-marathon that will take runners through many of the communities. The half-marathon carries a cash prize of $6,000 for both male and female winners; when it was first run off last year, Tonya Nero and Cleveland Forde were the winners.

Hartley says that aside from RBC, the events are also receiving assistance from the Ministry of Community Development, the Sports Company (SPORTT), the Defence Force, WASA, Blue Waters and the NLCB. The football tournament opens on April 12 at the Diego Martin North Secondary School; the West Penn organisation has invited Sports Minister Brent Sancho and RBC Managing Director Darryl White to attend.