FOGO Road and Holland High schools are the two new entrants that will contest this year's daCosta Cup, it was announced at the launch of the ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel schoolboy season at the Terra Nova Hotel yesterday.
Also, the organisers revealed that this year's competitions — the rural area daCosta Cup and the Corporate Area Manning Cup — will be sponsored to the tune of $40 million.
Fogo Road from Clarendon will contest Group M alongside Glenmuir, Denbigh, Garvey Maceo, Bustamante and Porus High schools, while Holland High of Trelawny are in Group C with Hopewell, Muschett, Spot Valley and William Knibb High schools.
The competition is set to kick off on Saturday September 8 with a double-header at Catherine Hall in St James which will see all-island triple crown champion St George's College taking on Hydel High in Group C action and defending daCosta Cup champion Rusea's High playing Herbert Morrison.
ISSA president, Dr Walton Small, said the most anticipated football competition in Jamaica is once again on the way.
"I have no doubt that this year's competition will be one to remember for a long time to come. This against the background that a significant number of participants are giving themselves a good chance of taking the title. So fasten the proverbial seat belt and enjoy the excitement of the 2012 season," he said.
"ISSA wishes to commend our title sponsors Gatorade and Digicel and our associate sponsor Restaurants of Jamaica (KFC) for investing significantly in our young people. ISSA specially welcomes the RJR Communications Group, our local exclusive media partner and hope that the relations will be mutually beneficial," Dr Small added.
Pepsi Jamaica through its brand Gatorade will pump $17 million in cash and kind into the tournaments, and the company's marketing co-ordinator Cornelia Nathan said the soft drink maker was happy to be in the mix.
"The continued involvement of Gatorade represents our commitment and responsibility as well, as we believe that athletes at all levels need the proper nutrition required to enhance their performances... Gatorade is the preferred choice as it gives that support in maintaining adequate carbohydrate reserves, replenishes water and electrolytes that are excreted in sweat," she told the gathering.
Digicel in their third and final year of a three-year deal handed over their cheque of $17 million through sponsorship manager Tahnida Nunes, who underscored the cell phone giant's involvement as one that "remains very near and dear to us".
"Digicel has a long-standing relationship with the development of football at all levels across Jamaica (and) this (sponsorship of schoolboy football) is a commitment that we value," she said.
"The schoolboy football competition is an initiative that we are delighted to support for several reasons. It is a tournament that teaches our youth discipline, sportsmanship, teamwork and dedication from an early stage. Qualities that prepare them for a better and brighter future," Nunes added.
Associate sponsor KFC has turned over $5 million in their third year of sponsorship and Ryan Silvera, marketing co-ordinator, is happy to continue that relationship.
"KFC has been on board with ISSA for quite some time through basketball and it's an easy decision to come over to football... you can see the football competition is a very good competition and it's a platform for many of our young boys," she noted.
Meanwhile, the RJR Group has taken over the broadcast rights from rivals CVM TV, and according to Dr Small, it will cost the Lyndhurst Road-based company some $3 million for those rights.
RJR Group managing director, Gary Allen who attended yesterday's function, has promised top-quality journalism at a higher level than their predecessor.
In addition to the traditional season-opening double-header involving the champions, there will be other games on from Group E of the Manning Cup with Trench Town playing Spanish Town; Ascot opposing Tarrant and Holy Trinity tackling St Catherine High.
Forty-three schools will contest the Corporate Area Manning Cup, which is divided into seven zones, while 85 schools (up from 12 to 15 zones), will vie for the rural area daCosta Cup crown.
The Manning Cup and the Walker Cup knockout finals are tentatively set for Saturday, November 24, but this will only happen if four different schools are involved.
The DaCosta Cup final is set for Catherine Hall in St James on Saturday, December 1 with the Ben Francis Knockout to take place earlier on Saturday, October 27.