Schoolboy football: Burned out and then penalised


Schoolboy football: Burned out and then penalised

BY Calvin Gray

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

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All teams do not play the same amount of matches in the preliminary round of our schoolboy football; hence, using the points received without any adjustments for the number of matches played to accumulate those points is not an adequate and/or appropriate metric to rank teams for the round of 32 matches and, by extension, determine who is their next opponent.

For example, all things being equal, a team that amasses 18 points from six games, and another team that amasses 18 points from 10 games, ought not to have the same rank — if for no other reason than one team, by virtue of having played two more matches, would have experienced what I am going to call more burnout.

Put another way, it is analogous to giving different schoolboy footballers different weights to carry, then the footballer who carried the heaviest weight, also carried that heaviest weight for the longest distance, ends up being ranked with another footballer who carried a lighter weight for a shorter distance.

Simply put, a team that amasses, say, 18 points from playing 10 matches, those 18 points ought to be increased by some “delta”, from another team that also amassed 18 points but from only six games. This “delta” I will call a 'burnout factor', which should then be used to normalise the actual points received by the team that played 10 matches.

How can a team like St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), which played 12 preliminary round matches in 2019, ending up with 32 points; or Manning's and Seaforth who played 10 preliminary round matches and ended up with 28 points, all three end up being ranked behind the likes of Clarendon College with 16 points from only six preliminary round matches and Cornwall College with 23 points from 10 preliminary round matches?

In track and field, athletes are ranked on time or distance based on event. Athletes from whatever corner of Jamaica are ranked and such ranking dictates pole position or lane assignment; of course, after an event a time or distance may be normalised for impacts such as wind speed, but no bonus time or distance from a previous year is added to their current time or distance to determine ranking and who gets, for example, which lane, going forward.

So was STETHS, for example, burned out for playing 12 matches, and not being duly rewarded? But, most importantly, was STETHS further penalised by not being ranked as the number one daCosta Cup team consequent on the 2019 preliminary round?

Have you ever wondered why in the English Premier League, for example, they can simply rank the actual points received, then go to wins and/or goal difference to separate teams with the same number of points? That is because all the teams play the same number of matches in a specific division, and their division is akin to a consistent level or standard of play, rather than our zoning, which is strictly of geographical nature and import to eliminate or minimise some of the administrative agony associated with the management of schoolboy football in Jamaica.

We need to rank schoolboy football teams using one national normalised metric when all teams are not playing the same number of matches in all zones; then play top to bottom at the round of 32, and the round of 16, and go to brackets that take you to the finals. Teams will meet solely on their current normalised national track record in schoolboy football; may the better team win, and it doesn't matter what part of the island a team is from, it's all about our one national football programme. The top 16 teams can still be chosen for any parish or county or region or city to play off for any knockouts and/or traditional cups or shields.

The risk of burning out of our teenage football talent is nothing short of a disaster to our national football programme and should not be a deliberate option.

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