Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Devon Dick | ISSA haad ayse and stubborn bad

Published:Thursday | November 21, 2019 | 12:20 AM

On the weekend, there was a newscast on RJR about a high school football team which won a football match 72 hours after playing another match. In addition, that sports report mentioned another high school, which lost a football game after playing the second match within 72 hours. This was mentioned without fanfare or outrage or apology. This is the new normal.

This happened after a successful football coach, Jerome Waite, complained about the hectic schedule for schoolboy football.

Waite, an assistant coach with the Reggae Boyz and coach of Charlie Smith High School, complained after his team played its third game in four days on Saturday, November 2. Waite lambasted Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA).

Waite observed, “At no level this will happen, because all over the world, no team play two games within 72 hours. It is important that you think about the health of the youngsters. It cannot be about sponsors and hype: it must be in the best interest of the youngsters” ( S tar November 6 p. 30). Nevertheless, within two weeks, two more teams were playing two matches, 72 hours apart. ISSA is not listening to a seasoned coach.

Two years ago, Leighton McKnight, who served football administratively at the CONCACAF, informed me that Cornwall College football team was playing more matches per week than Arsenal, a professional football club in the United Kingdom. If McKnight, well respected in accounting circles, cannot get ISSA to change, who can?

Some two decades ago, the late Rev Deryck Polack, Methodist minister, in a letter to The Gleaner, decried how a schoolboy football team was penalised because they did not make the journey of 50 miles to a football match because there was a weather alert for Jamaica. So, it is long time ISSA has been a law unto itself.

No response from ISSA

In an article, ‘Stop abusing school athletes’ (January 23, 2014), I wrote ‘that it seems that ISSA and sponsors are abusing these youngsters by hosting three highly competitive games in five days’. And in another article, ‘Stop abusing our schoolboy footballers’ (November 16, 2017), it appears the abuse was taken to another level when ‘Kingston College, a Kingston-based school, played a football match in St James, which ended at 9:31pm’ (See Enduring Advocacy for a Better Jamaica pp 145-46, 149-151). This seems to pose a security risk. I cannot recall ISSA responding to these concerns, and just minimal changes such as allowing five substitutes rather than the usual three were implemented.

However, the body and mind of footballers need recovery time for optimal performance. In addition, they need time to study – which is the primary reason for attending high school. But such a heavy schedule will affect academic performance. Even the student spectators will find it difficult to attend so many matches all over the country. Is this abuse due to the fact that most of the players are from the so-called lower socio-economic class?

What ISSA should do is schedule one football match per week. If rain affects a game, then let it be a no result and do not replay. Additionally, if there are three competitions that overlap, then each school should have three different football teams. This would allow more students to participate and enhance school spirit.

In the Bible, there are different Greek words for sin. There is Greek word for sin, which means falling short of God’s standard after effort or missing the mark after a reasonable try. But then there is deliberate, intentional and rebellious sin. It could also be presumptuous. This is what results from haad ayse and stubbornness and leads to wickedness.

The silence, insensitivity, unresponsiveness and the lack of meaningful change over the years mean that a charge that ISSA being haad ayse and stubborn bad is justified.

Rev Dr Devon Dick is pastor of Boulevard Baptist Church and author of Enduring Advocacy for a Better Jamaica; The Cross and the Machete and Rebellion to Riot: The Jamaican Church in Nation Building.