Government gives ISSA go-ahead to resume schoolboy footballTuesday, October 26, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
Schoolboy football is set to return in just under three weeks, in mid-November, after the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) announced yesterday it was given the go-ahead by the Government of Jamaica in response to a proposal it had made about a month ago.
After seeing the competition being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a release issued by ISSA said, “The organising committee of ISSA is now busy finalising arrangements to commence the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup on Friday, November 12 or Saturday, November 13.”
Keith Wellington, president of ISSA, told the Jamaica Observer that while ISSA was pleased it had been given permission to play, there were some concerns over the unavailability of the Pfizer vaccination for the players. One of the protocols under which the competition will be played is that all players, coaches and team officials must be vaccinated to take part, and the Pfizer vaccine is the one recommended for students under 18 years old.
“We are pleased that we have been granted permission to start our schoolboy football season,” he told the Observer yesterday. “It's really a pleasure that we have been afforded this opportunity to ensure that our young student-athletes, in this case the football players, get the opportunity to return to play in the sport. It has been two years for them and I know that many of them are concerned that the opportunity, the dreams and aspirations they had about getting scholarships”, he said.
Just over 90 schools are expected to take part — 53 in the daCosta Cup and another 37 in the Manning Cup, and Wellington said they were “really, really happy that we have been granted this permission and the Government has placed its confidence in us, so I think it is up to us now to repay the favour by ensuring that we do this safely.”
He admitted ISSA was “a little bit concerned about the level of vaccination, as you know there are currently no Pfizer vaccines available, but we are hoping that within another two weeks or so we hope the players and officials, coaches will get the opportunity to get at least one dose of the vaccine before the start of the competition”.
The ISSA president said his organisation had not got any information from the Government about the availability of the vaccine, “but I have heard suggestions that we should be able to get that done before the 12th of November”.
According to a release from ISSA there will be a break for the Christmas holidays due to the late start of the competition which traditionally would have kicked off in the first week of September.
“For the first time in recent memory, the season will be divided into two segments with the preliminary rounds and quarter-finals slated to be completed before the Christmas break, and the knockout stages when school resumes in January,” the release said.
Also, the schools taking part have been granted permission to start regular training activities “along with joint training sessions amongst schools to facilitate preseason preparation, subject to the dictates of the Disaster Risk Management Act and final approval for such sessions by ISSA”.