ISSA expects late kick-off to next football season


ISSA expects late kick-off to next football season

By Paul A Reid
Observer writer

Thursday, May 21, 2020

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It will be at least another six weeks before a decision is taken on whether there will be any Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) football competitions next season, ISSA boss Keith Wellington told the Jamaica Observer yesterday, a day after meeting with nearly 200 coaches.

Uncertainty hangs over next season's school football after last week's cancellation of all football in the island by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as when the sport would be able to restart.

The cancellation has affected the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), the super leagues, as well as all parish football competitions with JFF President Michael Ricketts setting a tentative September deadline for the start of the 2020-21 RSPL season.

ISSA has been having consultations with major stakeholders, after which it will meet to take a decision on the framework that the season would take, if there were to be a season, Wellington said.

In a virtual meeting on Tuesday with 183 coaches from the two major schoolboy football competitions - daCosta Cup and Manning Cup - Wellington emphasised that no decisions had been taken, and that if there were to be a competition, it would not start at the usual first weekend of September. He also advised coaches that student athletes should not start training before the end of June.

“It wasn't a decision-making [meeting]; no decision was made at the meeting,” Wellington pointed out. “The only thing that we communicated firmly to the coaches was that we would not be starting in September, and there was no need for coaches to have players out training for any reason at all. Some coaches had indicated that they had players doing physical work and I told them I would be instructing principals not to allow any training to start before the end of June.”

The St Elizabeth Technical High School principal said the organisation had met with all the stakeholders, except the principals, and got ideas before setting up a framework which would be completed by the end of June.

“We had a meeting with the coaches just to hear their ideas as to what they think about how we can function,” he said. “It is a process we are going through and we are having discussions with various stakeholders. We would have met with sponsors and media partners already, and now the coaches, as the ISSA executive would have met already, and we are going to meet with principals next and compile all the ideas we got so we can create a framework.

“So, basically, the only two things we said firmly were that we would not start in September and we don't want schools to start training before the end of June, and by the end of June we would come back with something definite for the framework for the new season.”

Clarendon College won the daCosta Cup and Olivier Shield titles last year, Jamaica College were the Manning Cup champions, Kingston College won the ISSA Champions Cup, while B B Coke High and St Catherine High were first-time winners of the Ben Francis and Walker Cup knockout competitions, respectively.

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