Filling the breach in sports development

Saturday, November 25, 2017

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All indications are that the 2017 schoolboy football season — now approaching its end — has gone very well.

Later today, Jamaicans will know the winner of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/FLOW Super Cup after St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and Kingston College match skills.

Come next week, the winners of the all-rural ISSA/FLOW daCosta Cup and the urban ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup will be decided. Stylish Clarendon College will face Rusea's High in that final, while the boys from Jamaica College are up against surprise package St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) for the Manning Cup.

Regarding the Super Cup, we note the upbeat message from FLOW executive Mr Carlo Redwood that he is delighted with the way the competition has gone so far, and that a final involving teams from rural and urban areas is ideal.

For whatever reason, the format of the FLOW Super Cup was changed this season with fewer teams being eligible. That and other changes to the structure of the overall schoolboy season appear to have had the effect of reducing the workload for players. Also, the schedule has seemed far less crowded than in previous years. That's good, we believe.

There is a case for the schoolboy football season to be extended beyond the current three months, which would allow for smoother scheduling and more playing time. As it is, some argue, three months is just too short if schools are to properly play a developmental role in Jamaican football.

Others will argue that development with an eye to professional sport or national representation was not the aim when organised sports – including football – first began in Jamaican high schools, over 100 years ago. Back then, high schools — which could be counted on the fingers — catering mainly for the children of the wealthy and influential, practised sport as extracurricular activity only.

The truth is that, today's schools have been forced to fill the breach in terms of honing and developing talent in football and other sports, because there are no other viable options in the absence of a professional structure.

We have said it many times, we say again, that ISSA has done an outstanding job down the decades in sustaining development programmes for sport, despite resource limitations.

Likewise, while we are well aware of the marketing benefits of such ventures, sponsors such as telecoms company FLOW deserve high praise for investing their money in schools' sport.

Long may such partnerships continue.




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