Mon | Sep 28, 2020

Schoolboy football changes to be appraised – ISSA

Published:Tuesday | November 19, 2019 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Hydel’s Deandre Walker (right) is challenged for possession by TahJ Hylton of St George’s College in their ISSA Walker Cup quarterfinal at Stadium East on Friday.

The recent changes made to the format of schoolboy football are being keenly watched. ISSA president Keith Wellington says his organisation will appraise the effect of the changes, which include the reduction in games played by the top teams and conversion of the Walker Cup and the Ben Francis Cup to consolation tournaments.

Asked about further changes, Wellington responded, “We continue to appraise for ourselves what is happening this season, so there’s always the possibility that there will be further changes.”

He was satisfied that format changes made in 2018 and 2019 have had a positive effect.

“We have reduced the number of games that the top team will play from 25 to about 21 right now, which we think is a reasonable number, bearing in mind that the first 10 games for the better teams, they are not really very hectic games. So we’re looking at a number, we’re looking at a number that will give the opportunity for students to get a real chance of competing over a decent period of time.”

Consolation tournaments

Those changes include the conversion of the Walker Cup and Ben Francis Knockout competitions into consolation tournaments. Though this makes it impossible for schools to win the coveted Manning-Walker-Olivier Shield or DaCosta-Ben Francis-Olivier Shield triple crowns, Wellington said, “We are dynamic, but as it is now, the discussion is one of being pleased with where we are with the Walker Cup and the Ben Francis in terms of the two seasons past as you would notice that some teams have come to the forefront.”

Noting that unfancied B.B. Coke High has progressed to this Thursday’s Ben Francis Knockout final, Wellington said, “You see B.B. Coke now into the finals, but also when you look back at the slight amendments that we made, you will notice that St George’s College, for example, is playing Walker Cup this year.”

That would have been impossible last year, but ISSA has broadened the entry to the Walker Cup and Ben Francis competitions this season. The ISSA president said the new situation has two benefits.

“In the DaCosta Cup, St Elizabeth Technical are playing Ben Francis, Manchester are playing Ben Francis, so we think that we are providing an opportunity, one, for more teams to play more games that probably would have fallen short in terms of the number of games you would have prepared for and eventually played as well as ensuring that the schools that did not get to the top of the pile yet, but would have produced a decent team, they have the chance to win a trophy,” he summarised.