ISSA urges quicker response from schoolboy football referees
A lightning bolt is a million times more powerful than household current, carrying up to 100 million volts of electricity.

ISSA President Keith Wellington is urging match officials in this year's schoolboy competitions to act swiftly once there is the threat of rain in their surroundings.

Wellington made his comments in the wake of an incident on September 19 where three players from Dinthill Technical and a match official were struck by lightning during an ISSA/WATA daCosta Cup game in Linstead, St Catherine. The match was being played against Charlemont High at Charlemont High School in Linstead.

Wellington told the Jamaica Observer that ISSA has not established any new protocols and it is now up to match officials to make their own judgement on these conditions once there is threat of rain in their area.

"Prior to the start of the season, we have indicated to the referees that there should be no exposure to players and match officials to any risk regarding lightning and therefore, whatever indications there are as it relates to lightning, it should result in the postponement of games," Wellington said.

WELLINGTON…we want to remind the referees that they need to be fully aware of the match conditions on the day and make decisions that are in the best interest of the safety of everyone concern

"We want to remind the referees that they need to be fully aware of the match conditions on the day and make decisions that are in the best interest of the safety of everyone concern."

Wellington, who is the principal of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), says ISSA is saddened by the incident and is happy that all victims are now at home recuperating.

"Obviously, it was an unfortunate incident and I don't think that I would necessarily want to blame anyone for what took place based on the circumstances that we have been made aware of," he said.

"I think for us, what we would probably want to see is a greater use of the technology by the various national associations for weather.

"I know for fact there were two MLS [Major League Soccer] games where we had to sit around and watch for two hours before the game started because there were some notifications that lightning was in the area or lightning was in the area around the stadium in particular, as a result of that the game was delayed. We don't have that sort of technology readily available to us, but we would love to see it become available sometime in the future."

Wellington indicated that lightning rods could be used as a preventative measure at some of these venues.

"Lightning rods are not too expensive, but they are not a hundred per cent guarantee that they are going to stop lightning," he said. "But even with lightning rods, you still want to take other precautionary measures.

"Lightning rods are very good and you want them to install not just for football but for security of properties. For example, at STETHS we have a number of lightning rods around the campus because we are in a lightning zone and that is to essential protecting life and property."

ROBERT BAILEY Staff reporter

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