Hubert Lawrence | New format needed for schoolboy football
I opened the Tuesday sports pages and there it was. The latest zone tables in the Manning Cup and the daCosta Cup were spread across one page, with the former in one column and the latter in two. The layout made it clear that the daCosta Cup has twice as many teams as the Manning Cup.
With both cups contested in the Christmas term, it's obvious that successful daCosta Cup teams would face a tougher schedule. The way things are today has evolved from the way they were, but change beckons.
Ideally, I'd simplify schoolboy football into 14 parish competitions with each champion and the two best parish runners-up advancing to an islandwide knockout tournament that would start with a Round of 16. However, the imbalance seen in the Tuesday papers prompted another idea.
In this thought paradise, the Kingston Metropolitan Area and the counties of Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey would run tournaments to produce champions and runners-up who would go forward to an eight-team Olivier Shield knockout. That would prove much more conclusively who was the best schoolboy team in the nation than the current one game encounter between the winners of the Manning Cup and the daCosta Cup.
Best of all, this format would be kind to successful teams than the very busy schedule they face at present.
In the weeks leading to the Jamaica Football Federation elections, revising schoolboy football was one of the items on the table for discussion and rightly so. After all, we have to take care of the future of Jamaican football right now.
The page I opened on Tuesday showed that while 42 teams are playing the Manning Cup, the corresponding number of daCosta Cup teams is 87.
The unavoidable conclusion is that restructuring is needed to help talented players to come through and to make costs more manageable. Put differently, the old format needs an upgrade.
By the way, when Clarendon College won the daCosta Cup in 1977, there were four zones in the first round. Now there are 15 most often with six teams each. Something has to change.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.