After Mona Prep’s eye-catching 46-0 win over Gordon’s Memorial in the Alberga Cup Under-12 Football Competition in October, Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA) Sports Coordinator Winston Keyes says implementing the mercy rule midway in the season was done to protect schools that have struggling programmes.
The mercy rule has been used in many youth competitions around the world where the games are called off if one team has achieved a preset lead.
JISA, which organises prep school sporting competitions, decided to apply the rule which states that the game can be stopped after a team takes a 12-goal lead.
Since Mona’s win and St Andrew Prep’s 16-0 win over Bright Beginnings on October 23, Keyes revealed the rule has since been used in three games.
While it may seem like a knee-jerk reaction to some, Keyes told the Jamaica Observer that the rule has been in the pipeline for years.
“This is something we have discussed before at the committee level. We looked at it and several ways how it can be done but somehow, prior to now, we had not put it into place. However, since the game between Gordon’s Memorial and Mona, that kind of massive scoreline caused us to look back at the mercy rule and to put it on the books, so it’s implemented for the year,” he said.
Keyes wants games to be competitive but is wary of the effect it might have on the losing team. “You don’t want to be trampling on [kids] because they are not experienced and making them feel as if they are nobodies. If you think about it in a different way, they are not experienced. So, let’s help them out because resources might not be at their schools and you want to help them out, so you play the game, yes, but we don’t want to trample on them.
“We want you to be mindful of who you’re playing and we want you to take care of your brothers, so if you realise your brothers or sisters are not up to par then have mercy on them, help them out and make sure you try to assist in the best way we can.”
Keyes says JISA has received support from several schools in the competition but not every school is in agreement with the mercy rule.
“A good amount of coaches responded positively about it and you know anything you implement, there are going to be persons who have their drawbacks. Maybe about some parts or clause of the rule they are not pleased with, but I guess that as time goes by, we might look at it and tweak what needs to be tweaked. But we really want to have it in place at this time. Those other schools that are not in favour, we’re trying to work with them to show them why we need to have it in place so we can take care of the little ones.”
Alfred Nelson, who coaches Mona Prep, the team whose result virtually led to the implementation of the rule, declined to comment when contacted by the Observer while a representative from Gordon’s Memorial, who shipped in the 46 goals, could not be reached for comment.
Keyes says he wants the competition to be seen as a form of pleasure for the students.
“We want everybody to look at it as a sport for enjoyment and persons don’t get scared when they’re going to play a game. They want to know that if they play the game and it reaches a certain scoreline, we can still have fun,” he noted.
While the rule is currently only in place for football, Keyes says JISA may introduce it in other sports.
“I am not too sure it would be used in netball as yet, but it is something we’d have to look at. Wherever it’s necessary to use it, we will but all the other sports we will have to look at what we’re doing and do it according to the rules and how it’s supposed to be used.”