The format that sees teams that fail to qualify for the semi-finals of the daCosta and Manning Cup competitions playing for the respective knockout trophies is here to stay, says ISSA President Keith Wellington.
The ISSA boss told the Jamaica Observer the rationale for the change was to protect the young athletes from overwork and said it would be “cruel” to expect them to compete for every title on offer.
Just over three years ago at the start of the 2018 schoolboy football season, ISSA took the decision to separate the teams, ending the possibility of schools winning the Corporate Area or Rural Area double, a decision that has come in for criticism from some quarters.
With only schools not eligibe for the Manning or daCosta Cup titles being able to play for the Walker Cup or Ben Francis knockouts, many feel the titles have been watered down and some have branded them “loser cups”.
Wellington said “the rationale for the structure that sees the format of the Ben Francis and Walker Cups have not changed” and quantifying the number of games teams would have to play if they were to be involved in all the cometitions.
“Based on our other competitions, the top teams are required to play approximately 17 league games — three or four Champions Cup games, an Olivier Shield game, so potentially the top two teams will play 21 or 22 games in a season lasting 14 or maximum 15 weeks. [I think] adding two or three more games for those teams would be cruel,” noted Wellington.
“The two regional KO cups are meant to provide additional games and experience for the teams that are just below the top teams who are usually going to be the same set of schools, barring a few exceptions,” he added.
With only the Olivier Shield game between daCosta Cup champions Garvey Maceo High and Manning Cup winners Kingston College on Saturday, five different schools will win competitions this season and the ISSA boss said this was not too much of a surprise.
“Not too difficult to predict...the structure of our competitions means that you must have at least four winners each season. This season we will have five.
“We rarely have the Champions Cup winner also winning the Manning Cup or daCosta Cup. Check and let me know how often it has happened,” said Wellington.
Since 2014 when the all-island knockout competition was first staged, only Jamaica College, who also won the Manning Cup that year, have ever won both titles.
— Paul Reid