Mon | Oct 19, 2020

Playing the waiting game - ISSA still seeking approval from Government for start of new schoolboy football season

Published:Monday | August 10, 2020 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica College’s Isaac Scott (center) weavs his way between St Andrew Technical High School’s Steven McQueen (left), and Rusean McFarquhar during the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup final at the National Stadium on Friday, November 29, 2019.

President Keith Wellington says that the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) expects to get a decision on whether schools will be able to resume football training and start the new schoolboy football season by mid-September.

ISSA said on Friday that it is continuing to engage stakeholders on the possibility of resuming competition as planned for October, but it has not received written correspondence confirming the approval.

The association says its executive is mindful of the range of issues relating to the spread of COVID-19 and the inherent risks involved instudents engaging in training and competition, but it says that it continues to put things in place for the resumption of competition whenever it is safe to do so.

“We are encouraging principals to carefully assess the current circumstances and make a determination as to their individual schools’ capabilities of engaging students in training activities at this time. Any such assessment must be aligned with our draft protocol document as well as related guidelines previously shared with schools,” ISSA said.

St Andrew Technical High School head coach Philip Williams said that it was a timely announcement from ISSA considering the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Although some of his players are frustrated with the delay in the start to training and the uncertainty concerning competition, he did not see the news as a setback of any kind.

“It was an announcement that I was expecting,” he said. “There has been a recent spike, and we are nowhere near the capability or the funding to keep safe in football, a contact sport.

“I don’t think the powers that be, the JFF (Jamaica Football Federation) or the Government, want to take responsibility for giving permission for schools to restart and then a few weeks after, you have a spike that can lead to cancelling the decision that was given.

“In terms of our plans for the season, it hasn’t set us back much. But there is always a doubt if we will play any football this year. The players have their ambitions to represent this season, especially, those in their last year, and it has been very frustrating for them.”

Wellington said in July that ISSA was expecting word from the Government by the end of that month. At the time, ISSA was looking to get under-16 and senior football, basketball, netball, and swimming approved for the new school year.