Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
Sponsors Denise Dixon (left), head of marketing for Pepsi; Yvonne Wilks (second left), head of marketing for Digicel; Joan Forrest-Henry (right), director of marketing Scotiabank; Dr. David McBean (second right), president of the CVM Communications Group; and Tina Myers-Matalon (third right), marketing manager of KFC, surround ISSA President Dr. Walton Small (centre) at the Terra Nova Hotel, yesterday. The event was the launch of the schoolboy football season. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
THE INTER-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) is expected to ring in a number of changes when schoolboy football's premier competitions, the Manning and daCosta Cups, kick off, to the tune of $30.5 million sponsorship from Pepsi and newcomers Digicel, in just over a week.
New president Dr. Walton Small, while cognisant of the importance of this year's record sponsorship package, has targeted gate receipts as a priority this season.
"Everybody want to come on board now thanks to our good corporate support," Small said at the launch of the competitions at the Terra Nova Hotel yesterday.
"The cost for preparation for a team is running at over $750,000. This sponsorship money is a drop in the bucket. We need to see how we can garner funds,"he said.
"We understand the controversy involved with teams worrying about home-court advantage but the teams are expensive to run and we need to be able to collect money," he said.
The format of this year's competitions remains pretty much the same, but there will be a few changes in a couple of other respects.
Schools entering this year's competition will be given $50,000 up front in an attempt to offload some of the expenses they may incur as they prepare to go through the season. However, that figure will have to be refunded should any team withdraw from the competition, whether at the beginning, midway or close to the end of the season. In addition to that, the teams will also receive a travel subsidy. The organisation is also expected to absorb the costs of referee fees and schools will also not have to make any contribution to the printing of their gears.
Medical attention to players will still be the responsibility of the schools entering the competition but ISSA will contribute 25 stretchers to schools in the competition's second round.
In addition to that, ISSA is also said to be in the process of setting up a database which will see fans able to access information and statistics - a sore point in recent seasons.
"We were hoping that it (database) would be ready for the start of the season. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case but we are hoping to have it up and running soon." Small said.
Thirty-eight teams placed in six zones will take part in this year's Manning Cup while 78 sides in 12 zones will compete in the daCosta Cup. Like last year, the winner of this year's Olivier Shield 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. The competition kicks off next Saturday with a triple-header at Jarret Park.