Wed | Dec 12, 2018

... 'We had to change' - Wellington explains adjustments to ISSA football

Published:Thursday | August 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica College players and supporters celebrate after winning the Walker Cup title at the National Stadium last year after beating Kingston College 2-1 in the final.

Keith Wellington, ISSA vice-president and principal of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), admitted that the changes to the format of the Walker Cup and Ben Francis Cup - the urban and rural area knockout competitions - have watered down the tournaments, but he believes it's a move ISSA had to make to relieve the congested schoolboy football fixture.

In former years, group winners and some second placed teams advanced in the Manning, Walker and Super Cup competitions. While second-round group winners and a few runners-up would advance in the Ben Francis Cup competition.

Last season, the eight winners in the Manning Cup seeded play-off advanced to the Walker Cup quarter-finals, while the winners and runners-up from the four quarter-final groups contested the Ben Francis equivalent.

However, this season, only the winners from the seeded play-offs will progress to the Manning and Champions Cup quarter-finals, while the losers will contest the Walker Cup.

In the daCosta Cup, the top two teams from the four quarter-final groups will qualify for the Champions Cup and daCosta Cups play-offs, while the third and fourth place teams will compete for the Ben Francis Cup.

"I would agree that the Walker Cup and Ben Francis Cup have been watered down to second-tier teams, but we have to take into consideration the number of games and we had to make a decision on which set of competitions we wanted to offer as our premier competitions.

"As it is, other than the Rusea's team in the '80s that won four trophies - and that was at that time when the trophies were one-game play-offs - no team has been able to win four trophies, because it is just too difficult with the schedule.

"So what we have done is open the competition to a second-tier set of teams to have something to play for, which is the Ben Francis and Walker Cup. First and second in each (daCosta Cup) group will play in the Champions Cup, while the third and fourth (places) will play Ben Francis. So the third and fourth place teams cannot win the daCosta Cup and Champions Cup, but they can win Ben Francis," Wellington said. "The four quarter-final winners will play the daCosta Cup semi-final."

 

OVERWHELMING SUPPORT

 

"In the Manning Cup, the eight teams that win their seeded play-offs will [continue in the] Manning Cup and [qualify for the] Champions Cup, and the eight that lose will play in the Walker Cup. So you can't win Walker Cup and Manning Cup, and you cannot win the daCosta Cup and Ben Francis Cup," he added.

He said there was overwhelming support from the schools on the changes, and although the best of the best will not be competing for the urban and rural area knockout crowns, Wellington insists there will still be teams of some pedigree contesting the trophies.

"We will still have quality teams. As it was last year, St George's and Wolmer's would [have] contest[ed] the Walker Cup, so there will be quality teams left back. So we believe it will work out," he said.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com