Wed | Apr 24, 2019

Western coaches embrace schoolboy football changes

Published:Saturday | August 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMKavarly Arnold/Gleaner Writer
Michaela Francis (left), WATA marketing manager, presents her company’s sponsorship cheque to ISSA president Dr Walton Small at the ISSA schoolboy football season press launch at the Terra Nova Hotel on Wednesday.

Coaches of western schools said the changes made by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) for the 2018 schoolboy football season are understandable, though pointing out that the change in sponsorship will not make much of a difference.

The most significant change in the daCosta Cup, which will now be sponsored by Wisynco, will see the top two teams from the four quarter-final groups qualify for the ISSA Champions Cup and daCosta Cups playoffs, while the third-and fourth-place teams will compete for the Ben Francis Cup.

Dr Dean Weatherly, coach of seven-time Ben Francis Cup winners Cornwall College, said the changes made to the format will take away a bit of historic value and pedigree from the 36-year-old trophy.

"I don't really have any problem with the changes. The only thing I don't like is how they are downplaying the knockout trophy (Ben Francis) because it has some rich history. I understand their plight in trying to make the product better. A lot of people complaining about the number of games the boys are playing, but to me, all they need to do is extend the season," said Weatherly.

Keeping his eyes on the main prize, coach of St Elizabeth Technical High School Omar 'Rambo' Wedderburn, who won six straight Ben Francis Cup titles, highlighted that out of desperation to win a title some coaches may try to play the system.




"You have to be smart as a coach, and if you have your eyes on the prize you'll think about the big picture. You have some coaches who will play smart and just set their team to play for the Ben Francis. Meanwhile, there are other coaches that will want the big championship and play their best as usual," said Wedderburn.

"As for sponsorship, yes, it is good because I think the previous sponsor set the tone, so who come now have to try and make it bigger and better. It is a competitive field in terms of sponsors; however, we are just here to play and enjoy, it's not our business who sponsors what," he added.

Despite not believing the previous format was too much on the legs of the boys, coach of Frome Technical High School (2006) Aaron Lawrence is also not bothered by the change.

"I'm not looking at the part about it taking a toll on the youngsters because I can remember when I used to play, we won many championships for Rusea's where we played games on Wednesday and Saturday, and then Premier League on Sunday. So it's how we manage ourselves and our youngsters. This format change will now give other teams a chance to win something so I have no problem with the changes," said Lawrence.