Tue, Aug

Wallace hints of shortened SSFL season.

It could be a shortened season, coupled with severe cuts in funding for schools when the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) kicks off in September.

On Wednesday, president of the SSFL William Wallace said his executive will confirm this in the coming weeks but said this season's tournament will be crucial for players and fans, both physically and psychologically.

Wallace, the former president and driving force behind the stance taken by the United T&T Football Association (TTFA) to challenge FIFA for its decision to appoint a Normalisation Committee to run local football, told Guardian Media Sports that the logistics for the season are being worked out at this time, as they were awaiting word from the Ministry of Education on when schools were going to be opened.

Wallace explained that having a full season this year is still being worked out at the executive level, saying the discussions have been focused around whether they should just concentrate on the Premier Division level as well as the Championship, with no play for some of the lower divisions this year.

"We are still to have a clear understanding of how we would proceed but for us, at the SSFL, we think this is a crucial term for our footballers, our young people. Having gone through the experience of this COVID-19, they need to be able to get out there and express themselves, post COVID-19, and we are hoping that we will find a way to definitely have some football this year.

"I know the focus at the ministry at this point is on examination and trying to work out the logistics in terms of CSEC. I have been trying to communicate with the minister's adviser to get a feel of things, but for me and for us at the SSFL, this is a crucial term."

Wallace said schools are to suffer a problem of reduced funding this year.

"One of the issues I know schools will have is the funding, the reduced funding from the ministry. We are thinking about that also so we have to factor that in," Wallace said.

The SSFL is still to finalise funding from its sponsors, such as First Citizens, Fruta, Shell, and Coca Cola among others, and according to the SSFL boss, there is also likely to be cutbacks from these companies as well.

With teachers expected to head back out to schools next week, Wallace said they should have a better idea of what the season would look like. The SSFL is also to experience challenges on the field, with Wallace saying they will also have to consider if they will be playing in empty stadiums.

"This is something we have to think about, the whole idea of social distancing so there are so many factors we have to think about. Sportsmax involvement will be very critical if, for example, we are playing in empty stadiums. They may get more involved in terms of televising games, we have already had preliminary discussions on that. Whether they will be more involved in televising games and so on, so at least persons can see the games from the comfort of their own homes."

Wallace assures an exact date for the start of the competition will be determined soon, saying if the season will be a shortened one they will have a later start to the tournament.