'Follow the rules or be disqualified'
ISSA threatens sanctions for schools which disobey COVID-19 protocols during football season
Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) President Keith Wellington is warning participating schools in this year’s schoolboy football competitions that they will be thrown out of the tournaments if they do not follow the protocols which have been established by the Government to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Twenty-two schools have been entered for the Manning Cup, which is contested by Corporate Area high schools and is set to get under way on November 12.
Fifty-three teams are scheduled to compete in the daCosta Cup, which is played among rural schools, and is scheduled to kick off on November 13.
Wellington told The Gleaner that all participating schools are aware of all the COVID-19 protocols that have been agreed on by ISSA and the Government.
“We have rules in place that we are going to be insisting upon because we have an obligation to the general public to ensure that the competitions are safe,” Wellington said.
“They will be disqualified from the competitions if they break these rules or guidelines and we will be taking this very seriously, so everyone is aware of this.
"We are happy that we have finally gotten the approval and we are also aware that it comes with huge responsibility in terms of ensuring that we are able to stage the competition safely.”
The season will be divided into two segments with the preliminary rounds and quarter-finals. The finals will be completed before the Christmas break and the knockout stages when school resumes in January.
It is mandatory that all players and officials wishing to participate take at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before the start of the competition.
ISSA said failure to comply automatically renders individuals ineligible. There will also be no spectators for at least the preliminary round of the competition.
Participating schools have also been granted approval to commence regular training activities along with joint training sessions among schools to facilitate preseason preparation, subject to the dictates of the Disaster Risk Management Act and final approval for such sessions by ISSA.
Wellington said that the scale down in the number of participating teams is because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We understand the numbers and we are happy with the numbers," he said. "I think that it is more manageable and we understand that we will find it more difficult to manage in this pandemic and therefore we will work with the numbers that are listed.
"There are no vaccines available for the kids under the age of 18 now, so we would not be totally satisfied with the level of vaccination and so we are hoping that before we start, we will have the opportunity to get some of the students vaccinated, for those who are not vaccinated as yet."
Wellington says that ISSA has a list of the venues that they are in the process of choosing and schools will not be hosting home games, even though they will be using some of these school venues.
The competition will not be structured on a home-away basis, so we will have special venues that all games in a particular zone will play and this is the rule of the competition, and once they have entered, means that is what they have agreed to."