Management of players critical, say experts
THE integration of the groundbreaking LIME Super Cup into the 2014 schoolboy football season promises exciting contests and brings into focus the age-old rivalry between urban and rural area teams.
Add the vital ingredient of good quality playing surfaces, and high school football lovers are in for quite a feast for four Saturdays from October 18 to November 8.
The victorious team stands to earn a tidy $1 million — a good incentive for coaches and school administrators to push for glory in earnest.
Inevitably however, some critics point to the workload, with involved students already competing in the rural area daCosta or urban area Manning Cup competitions, Ben Francis Cup Knockout or Walker Cup KO, and ultimately the Olivier Shield all-island tie.
Torrential showers, in this, the rainy season, is also a factor that could cause postponements and make for a hectic schedule.
George Forbes, the competitions' officer for the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) does not appear too concerned. He said ISSA, the entity responsible for high school sports competitions, has structured the football season to alleviate the burden on teams.
"It is manageable and we are going to finish the same time we normally do," he said at yesterday's launch inside the Talk of the Town suite at the Pegasus Hotel.
"We have been working on this from last year, so it was in the pipe works. We did some tweaking here and there and I think we have worked out a reasonably good formula."
Andrew Price, the coach of Premier League outfit Boys' Town FC and a former Manning Cup standout for St George's College, endorsed the new tournament and said the onus will be on the schoolboy coaches to properly manage their respective squads.
"It's about managing and I think ISSA has done a good job over the years if you look at it relatively ... [with regards to] structuring it, so it's not too heavy on the players. Coaches are really going to have to look at team management and resting and rotating players," Price told the Jamaica Observer.
The former Clarendon College star and current head coach of Kingston College, Lenworth 'Teacher' Hyde, reasoned that the winning prize should be incentive enough for schools to seek deeper squads to sustain the rigours of the season.
"We registered 30 players so we can rotate. And about the number of games, you have to know how to coach and coaches have to look at the preparation between games to keep players fresh and replenished," Hyde said.
While the Olivier Shield play-off -- historically the guideline used to determine the all-island champions -- remains a fixture on the schoolboy football calendar, Hyde said the LIME Super Cup, played between eight teams from the Manning Cup and the same number of schools from the daCosta Cup, will offer a better reflection of country-wide supremacy.
"It [the Super Cup] is a good initiative, it's good for schoolboy football. The Olivier Shield is just a one-off so that can't really prove much, but this will deal with consistency. It's important because the schools want the money and there's the bragging rights between town and country."
He also argued that the timing of the start of the new competition -- smack centre in the schoolboy season -- will help competing teams to fine-tune for the backend of the campaign.
"The more games the better you get so it sharpens the players for the rest of the season," the former national player said.
From the Manning Cup, the seven first-round group winners and the best second-placed team will enter the Super Cup. From the much larger daCosta Cup pool, the eight winners of the inter zone (second) round will compete.
Games will be played at Wespow Park in St James, Juici Patties field in Clarendon and in Kingston, at Sabina Park and the National Stadium.