Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
Leesa Kow (left), marketing executive, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS); ISSA president Clement Radcliffe (second left); Andrew Reid (third left), general manager of Pepsi Cola Jamaica Limited; and Captain Lincoln Thaxter, principal of Calabar High School, look at a bag of sponsorship gear for the Red Hills Road-based school. The occasion was the launch of the ISSA/Pepsi/ Jamaica National schoolboy football competition for 2006 at the Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew yesterday. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
The 2006-2007 ISSA/Pepsi/JN schoolboy football season kicks off in exactly one week's time and football will be the primary focus. However, competition organisers, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), have reiterated their commitment to academic achievement as part of a holistic development programme.
According to ISSA, students in both the Manning and daCosta Cup competitions will have to have passed at least four subjects with a 45 per cent pass rate and had an 80 per cent school attendance record last term, before they will be allowed to suit up for their teams this season.
Perhaps encouraged by the fact that five students from the winning daCosta Cup team, Godfrey Stewart, have taken up football scholarships in the United States, president of ISSA, Clement Radcliffe, sees students not just playing football, but achieving academic success as one of his organisation's major objectives.
"Our mission is the continued rounded development of the students under our care, and while football may be an important aspect of this development it is not the only one," said Radcliffe in a press conference for the competitions' official launch at the Terra Nova Hotel yesterday.
"Football can itself be a viable means of vocation for many of the students and as a result, it definitely needs to start to be seen as such," he added.
There will be 102 teams, 37 Manning and 65 daCosta, taking part in this year's competition, which will follow the format of previous years. However, this year a conscious effort has been made to highlight the Olivier Shield as schoolboy football's top prize. This year the winners of that trophy will walk away with $180,000, while the winners of the Manning and daCosta cups will receive $175,000 each and the runners-up $75,000 each.
In addition to that, two MVP awards worth $50,000 each will be given out for both competitions, a trophy for the leading goal-scorer and a golden boot award for most goals scored from the second round onwards. Awards will also be presented for a best attacking and defensive team.
This year has also seen the introduction of a Player of the Month award, worth $10,000. In order to win that award a player, who will be nominated by his school must both be having impact on the field of play and doing well academically. In addition, an award will also be presented to the two best coaches of the competition, one for the Manning and one for the daCosta Cup.