Wed | Jun 7, 2023

Schoolboy football season facing further delay

Published:Monday | August 30, 2021 | 7:06 PMKAVARLY ARNOLD/STAR Writer -
President of ISSA Keith Wellington
President of ISSA Keith Wellington

Western Bureau:

President of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), Keith Wellington, says the current spike in COVID-19 cases could force changes to their recently announced October timeline for the start of the 2021 schoolboy football season.

Two weeks ago, ISSA announced a proposed October 9 date for the resumption of the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup schoolboy football competitions.

The governing body for high school sports in Jamaica has been forced to abandon all but one competition since March 2019 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. In May this year, the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships was held at the National Stadium but without spectators.

"We don't know when we will start, we don't know the format of the competition or how many schools will be participating," Wellington said.

"The timeline can't be the same that we had in June or July. Discussions around coming to a decision (on date) would be premature because we have to keep adjusting. We don't want to be having public discussions on something we haven't had the opportunity to discuss with our stakeholders," Wellington said while adding that now is not the time to talk about venues or other specifics.

Kemar Ricketts, coach of defending Ben Francis Cup champions B. B. Coke High School, said while the uncertainty around the date for resumption will affect their preparations, the main thing coaches were seeking is some form of competition.

"The uncertainty surrounding the resumption of face-to-face classes has always been a factor. However, our minds would have been around that October date proposed by ISSA. We know that things can change and it may get pushed back so it's not so much about October 9 or not, what we want to know is if the competition will be played," Ricketts said.

"In relation to the preparation, that remains the same. Our only concern is not being able to play practice games. I hope things will improve soon," he added.

When asked about schools' preparation for the upcoming season, Wellington outlined that while ISSA has no say as to what goes on within the walls of schools, he is hoping they are doing their best while keeping within the government guidelines.

"Schools are individual entities that ISSA don't control. What we have done so far is to provide a timeline as to what we are likely to do. Obviously, with what has been happening, we have to be making daily adjustments. We would assume that each school would adhere to the policies of the Government and therefore whatever decision they take regarding training would be in keeping with these stipulations and ISSA's proposed timeline," Wellington said.