'Mercy' move in prep school football gets support from coaches
Dominic Crockshan (left) of Emmanuel Christian Academy challenges Sts Peter and Paul's Matthieu Miller during a preseason tournament at Mona Bowl in St Andrew on September 30. Both teams will begin their JISA Alberga Cup quarter-final campaign today.

Three coaches of title-chasing schools in the Jamaica Independent Schools' Association (JISA) Alberga Cup Under-12 football competition say they have no issues with the recently implemented mercy rule in the competition.

Following Mona's 46-0 win over Gordon's Memorial on October 23, JISA — the competition's governing body — quickly put into effect a mercy rule which states the game can be stopped if a team is leading by 12 goals.

JISA's Sports Coordinator Winston Keyes told the Jamaica Observer that they were still trying to convince some coaches to get on board because they were in disagreement with the rule. He did, however, acknowledge that the majority of the coaches were satisfied with the rule.

Alfred Nelson, coach of Mona Prep whose performance led to the implementation of the rule, declined to comment on the matter.

Gregory Jones, head coach of title favourites Emmanuel Christian Academy, is fine with the rule but suggested that the competition should create more parity.

"It's amateur sports or development sports and I've always been in favour of the rule before this year. I think it needs to be tweaked but it's a start and there's a far way to go to ensuring that the league is balanced," he said.

"All the teams are not at the same level and in the USA, you have different tiers so I believe JISA should have two tiers. Some teams aren't competing for a championship, they compete just for participation so they should compete by themselves. I think the top teams should play against each other [because] every time I go out there I want to play Mona, Vaz, Our Lady of the Angels, and so on," Gregory added.

Orlando Clarke, head coach of this year's quarter-finalists Sts Peter and Paul Prep, emphasises that the coaches should have taken measures to prevent it from reaching this point.

"It's a good rule, but I think that we shouldn't have to resort to a mercy rule. I think that coaches should show mercy without a rule. You don't need someone to set a rule for you to understand and respect things," he said.

Former Harbour View midfielder Mitchily Waul, who coaches this year's quarter-finalists Wolmer's Prep, says the mercy rule benefits everyone involved in the game.

"There's a place for the rule. I think it creates some sort of control towards the game and the whole emotional effect that it can have on kids," he said.

"There's discretion in it and it creates a balance in decision and growth of coaches for their teams. Also, it creates a space for referees to get involved in that growth and decision-making."

On Wednesday, four schools — including Emmanuel, Mona and Sts Peter and Paul — booked their spot in the semi-finals of the Alberga Cup.

Emmanuel's 3-1 win over Wolmer's saw them finish top of Group C, Mona's 5-0 over Liberty gave them Group B honours and Sts Peter and Paul's 2-1 victory over AISK secured Group A honours.

Hillel also advanced to the semis as the best second placed team following their 4-1 against Belair which put them second in Group A on 6 points with a plus five goal difference. Liberty, in Group B, also had six points but their heavy defeat to Mona saw them finish with a minus two goal difference.

The semi-finals are set for Wednesday, December 6 where Sts Peter and Paul will battle Hillel, while Mona challenge Emmanuel.

The Henriques Cup, which is the knockout tournament, will begin this Saturday consisting of the top 24 teams from the Alberga Cup.

BY DANIEL BLAKE Staff reporter blaked@jamaicaobserver.com

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