I beg to disagree!

Sport

I beg to disagree!

Wellington tackles Ricketts on claims that restart of schoolboy football more risky than Premier League

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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Keith Wellington, president of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), has disagreed with president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Michael Ricketts that the restart of schoolboys' football could pose a bigger challenge to organisers than the restart of the Premier League.

Both the schoolboys and the club leagues have been shut down out of concern for the COVID-19 pandemic and organisers are awaiting clearance from the ministries of Health and Wellness and Sport.

Last week, Ricketts said he was optimistic that they would get the thumbs up to restart soon and said fans can expect a condensed version of the Premier League given the time left in the season.

At Thursday's monthly meegting of the Rotary Club of Kingston, Ricketts expressed the opinion that the restart of the schoolboys football competitions, mainly the daCosta Cup and Manning Cup, could pose a bigger problem to restart than the Premier League, mainly because of the numbers of teams taking part.

“Schoolboy football is even more chalenging than the Premier League,” Ricketts said while responding to questions after he delivered the main address.

“When you have schoolboy' football and everyone is mixing and mingling, then you are bound to have issues and that is even of a greater challenge, but let's see what happens in September,” Ricketts said.

He acknowledged that it was ISSA that had the “overall responsibility of organising schoolboys football in conjunction with the JFF”.

“We will certainly have some discussions later, but I can tell you that schoolboy football is going to be a huge challenge,” Ricketts noted.

However, Wellington said Ricketts' opinion can be viewed in many ways but argued that ISSA's level of organisation and execution could see a smooth restart.

Additionally, Wellington said with September still a long way away and with a number of things that could happen between then and now, any misgivings could be premature.

“Mr Ricketts' statement can be viewed in a number of different ways; I don't know that we will find it more difficult because of our competence and our level of organisation, so while it may defineately be a bigger challenge, it may actually not be more difficult because of how we organise and plan for our events,” said the ISSA boss.

Wellington conceded that the bigger challenge could be that there are 130-plus teams playing in schoolboy football with the teams spread all across the island, against 12 in the Premier League.

“We have bigger crowd support than every other football competition in the country, [and] it genuinely means it could be a bigger challenge, but I think where we maybe able to overcome these challenges is the support structures that we have in place for schoolboy football, and therefore, we would be able to overcome these challenges a little bit easier than the JFF would have been able to deal with their club football,” he said.

With another eight months to go before the official start of schoolboy football, Wellington pointed out “that hopefully by then things will not be as challenging as they are now”.

He also postulated that his organisation could also use new formats, not neccesarily the official ones, if they were to play some football in April or May.

“{I don't know] if Mr Ricketts would have been referring to schoolboy football in its regular format or any football in shools...if we are talking about general football in schools, it may not be as difficult because football in schools may not neccesarily require the level of formalities that comes with cometitive football,” Wellington asserted.

“For example, we could decide that our football within the school system could take other formats; we could play nine a side or no contact football which means no tackling because you are not actually playing football at a competitive level in that case.

“Say we wanted to play some fotball in April or May, we could reduce the competition to eight or nine a side, we could say that there should be no tackling or no man marking and then it would not be a formal football competition,” the ISSA president said.


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