ISSA plans October return for schoolboy football
PRESIDENT OF the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), Keith Wellington, said his organisation is forging ahead with plans to start high school boys’ football competitions in October. The main competitions are the Manning Cup, which is...
PRESIDENT OF the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), Keith Wellington, said his organisation is forging ahead with plans to start high school boys’ football competitions in October. The main competitions are the Manning Cup, which is contested by Corporate Area institutions, and the daCosta Cup, played among rural schools.
If all goes according to plan, this would mark a return to competition as the 2020 high school boys’ football tournaments were abandoned last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, there has been a surge in COVID-19 cases, which has forced the Jamaican Government to tighten its restrictions. The country has been experiencing a third wave of the virus which, up to last Friday, had infected 56,700 Jamaicans. Up to that time, 1,276 persons had died from the disease.
Wellington told The Sunday Gleaner that ISSA – the governing body for high school sports – has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and a final decision on whether the competition will go ahead this season would be made at a later date.
“We are just continuing our plans and we will make a final decision sometime later. But right now we are going ahead with the plans that we have in place to have the competition in October,” said Wellington.
“I am not being guided by emotions right now. All my focus is on thinking through this thing to the end, and so feelings don’t count right now in how I am treating this situation,” he said.
Wellington, an experienced administrator, who is the principal of St Elizabeth Technical High School, advised adherence to Government’s COVID-19 protocols.
“I am planning and I am hopeful and I am encouraging everybody to take up the vaccine because I think our best opportunity for having a competition is to have more people vaccinated,” he said.
“My advice to all the schools is that they should continue to encourage the persons who they interact with to abide by all the protocols of COVID-19, including taking the vaccine where it is possible,” Wellington said.
Ludlow Bernard, head coach of defending Manning Cup champions Kingston College (KC), said his team has been preparing for the October start and they have been adhering to protocols set by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“I have no problem with the season starting in October because I think it gives enough time to make their decisions,” said Bernard.
“I think as we all know anything can happen and circumstances can change, and so I think that is a fair timeline within which to work and get everybody organised because these are unusual circumstances,” he pointed out.
“We at Kingston College adhere to principles and rules and, therefore, we have followed all the Government’s COVID-19 protocols and guidelines,” Bernard assured.
Lenworth ‘Teacher’ Hyde, head coach of defending daCosta Cup champions Clarendon College, said he is very delighted that ISSA has now given an indication as to when the competition will begin.
“I am feeling happy about this October start because it is about time the youth them start playing some football again. I know that most of the schools have been in some sort of preparations and so it is a good look,” said Hyde.
“We want to get the youths off the streets and get them playing again, and we are looking forward to this,” he said.
Regarding COVID guidelines, Hyde said: “We have been strictly following the protocols because whenever we are going to the gym, we practise social distancing and players are told to follow the rules and guidelines.”