Red card for new ISSA system

The Sporting Edge

With Paul Reid

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!

In their effort to improve the schoolboy football competitions, the organisers, Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), have made significant changes for the season that starts in just over a week's time.

The daCosta Cup that is played among 94 schools outside of the Corporate Area will be mostly affected. And based on the schedule, barring any major interference — for example, the weather – the season will end a week early.

The new format and the reported cutting of the number of teams in the Flow Cup knockout from 16 to eight teams — four from each competition — could see less wear and tear on the players with fewer games, less travel and more rest, and that is a plus.

The expansion of the Ben Francis KO to eight teams is also a plus, as it breathes some freshness into the competition.

The biggest change is to the second round of the daCosta Cup where, instead of the three-game Inter-zone round, there will be 16 two-game ties with the teams being seeded to determine the best against the worst. This is where I have serious issues.

Instead of match-ups determined before the start of the competition, the organisers will use a series of formulas – including results from last season – to determine the number one team that will play the 32nd-ranked team, second-ranked team against the 31st-ranked team, and so on.

We will have a situation where, at the end of the first round, we will have to wait while the organisers deliberate and then announce who will play whom in the second round. It used to be easy to work that out based on the match-ups known before the start of the competition.

Linvern Wright, chairman of the daCosta Cup committee, said in an interview that the idea was to give their best schools a chance to make it to the semi-finals. If that is so, then he has missed his mandate.

His responsibility isn't to any small subset of schools in the competition, but to every single one of the 94 schools that will be taking part. His mandate as chairman is not to a few schools, but to make sure there is a level playing field for all schools.

The top schools don't need any help from ISSA. Everything must be earned on the day and on the field.

In over 40 years of following sports and 35 years as a journalist, I have never heard of any league using results from the previous season in such a way to determine seeding after the first round has been played.

This competition is between schoolboy teams, it is not professional football where clubs are able to restock each season, despite the growing trend we have seen over the past few years. What happened last year has nothing to do with this year, as schools that cannot afford to recruit by the dozens are already at a disadvantage and will be further marginalised.

This new system is unfair to the weaker schools and those who do not have the millions of dollars to spend on enticing players from other schools, and their reward for qualifying for the second round is to face one of the giants of the competition.

It is a fact that some regions have managed to produce significantly better football players than others, and pitting the strongest against the weakest will not help, in my humble opinion. Imagine, if you will, and no disrespect to the newcomers Troy High and Carron Hall neither of which have any results from last year — should any of them manage to get one of the qualification spots. Troy — the 32nd-seeded team — hosts St Elizabeth Technical, the number one ranked team, and loses by a large margin of say 8-0. Why should they bother to go to STETHS to play the return leg? What incentive would they have? The old Inter-zone format was not broken, so there was no need for a change, at least not a change such as this.




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon