Schoolboy football KO cup to take a hit amid changesThursday, August 23, 2018
BY HOWARD WALKER
The prestigious Walker and Ben Francis Cup knockout competitions, which have been staples of traditional schoolboy football triple crown supremacy, have been virtually watered down to second-tier tournaments for the 2018 season.
Instead of having the top teams vie for the knockout cups, those competitions will be contested amongst teams eliminated at fairly early stages of the respective Manning and daCosta Cup competitions, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) announced during yesterday's schoolboy football launch at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel.
So 2017 Walker Cup champions Jamaica College (JC) and last year's Ben Francis Cup winners Clarendon College will not get the chance to defend their titles unless they are booted from the respective Manning Cup and daCosta Cup competitions earlier than expected.
The Ben Francis knockout will be contested by the third- and fourth-placed teams in the quarter-final round of the daCosta Cup, while the Walker Cup will feature the eight losing teams at the end of the second round of the Manning Cup.
Linvern Wright, chairman of the daCosta Cup, explained ISSA's changes to the Jamaica Observer.
“It's just that we are tweaking and nothing is written in stone. If it doesn't work this year we have no problem in changing it back. We know there are appetites out there for some things that we have to honour. If we make a change and we find that it doesn't really work the way it is supposed to work, then we will see how it goes,” he said.
Wright continued: “Sometimes they are playing so many matches; nobody has won four titles over how many years now?”
Ian Forbes, manager of JC, expressed some disappointment, but said they will be hunting whatever ISSA puts on the table.
“One likes to defend their title. I don't hear the rationale for the new format, and of course, that one cannot win the Manning or daCosta Cup title and also win either the Walker Cup or Ben Francis Cup based on how it is now structured,” he told the Observer.
“I think if four trophies are on offer one should have the opportunity to go for all four trophies. I know there were counter-arguments in the past that too much football is being played. But based on how it has been structured lately, I think it's more accommodating,” he added.
“So it's a little disappointing that you really can't win all four but it is what it is and we have to go with what the organisers have put in place. They have now made the two cups almost consolation competition,” he noted.
As it stands, the combined top 16 teams of the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup will be channelled into the all-island Champions Cup that has replaced the Super Cup.
ISSA vice-president Keith Wellington noted that over the last eight months the organisation has been working “assiduously to review the SBF (Schoolboy Football) product and chart a course to revamp the way the competition is presented”.
“Over the last few years we have had proposals for the restructuring of the competition and last year we embarked to restructure over time. This year we seek to continue this effort to introduce changes that we hope to enhance this spectacle that schoolboy football has evolved into,” he added.
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