Sat, Jan


"Revert to Zonal football and leave out the Coca Cola Intercol play-off for this year's Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), if there is to be a shortened version this year," coaches from four out of the five zones have said.

Their comments come two days after SSFL president William Wallace, in a Guardian report on Thursday, said the League could be curtailed by challenges caused by the COVID-19 situation. The executive of the schools league will meet soon to determine if they will have to run a shortened version or not.

They will also have to decide on whether to have competition only for the Premiership and Championship Divisions and leave out action in the lower divisions such as the Under-16, 14, Girls U-15 and Form One U-13.

Coaches Shawn Cooper of Presentation College, Ronald Daniel of St Anthony's College, Kerry Lynch of Speyside High School and Anthony Samuel of Malick Secondary also believe, there should be no promotion or demotion this year if the league is shortened.

Cooper told Guardian Media Sports his main concern will be on players in their final year, who will be attempting to get scholarships abroad, otherwise, he embraces the idea of a shortened season.

Cooper, who guided the southerners to their first-ever InterCol title last year, said players like Jaiye Sheppard, who scored the winner for 'Pres' in the InterCol final against Naparima College, will be looking for scholarships to go out.

"There are lots of players who would have been looking forward to this season to see if they can get out to North America. Sportsmax will also be a very integral part in this, in terms of marketing the players and getting them to be seen by coaches," he said.

"It will be a burden on some of the players if you have to ask someone to videotape a game if Sportsmax is not there. Coaches normally want to see a whole game and not a video you put together with just your good points."

Cooper's boys are set to begin training soon in an attempt to successfully defend their title.

Daniel said, "If we have to run football this year, they will have to go back to the zones, just as how it was before. And from there, depending on whatever time we have, we can play a Big Five. This means they will have to leave out all the lower divisions, it is already tight."

Meanwhile, Lynch believes the Premiership Division can be divided into two groups that will play one round of competition, and the top teams will go into a play-off. With this format, Lynch said the SSFL executive may still be able to play the InterCol which is normally a short tournament anyway.

Otherwise, Lynch said it might be useful if we can revert to the zonal competitions which will end probably in a big five play-off.

Malick coach Samuel said if there is to be a shortened season, then there should be more match-days every week.

"We can probably play almost every day in the week at reduced game-times, so instead of having 90-minute games, we can have 60 minutes instead. There must also be no promotion or demotion and this should apply for both the Premiership and Championship Divisions. We can leave out the InterCol tournament," Samuel said.

Apart from a possible shortened version of the SSFL this year, Wallace and company are also bracing for cuts in grants for schools from the Ministry of Education, cuts in funding from their sponsors, drastically reduced crowd support at matches and uncertainty about the role of Sportsmax.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian