Sun, Oct

Shawn Cooper, right, the head coach of Presentation College of San Fernando gives instruction to his players Luke Charles, centre, and Zion Allen during their SSFL Premiership Division match at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva on October 9. Presentation won 1-0.  ANTHONY HARRIS

THE SECONDARY Schools Football League (SSFL) has issued a recommendation to all participating schools which have resumed training for the forthcoming season to cease all operations in light of the recent resurgence of confirmed covid19 cases in T&T.

SSFL assistant secretary (administration) Gerald Elliott confirmed this decision taken by the fraternity as a precautionary measure to prevent the possible spread of the novel virus. Although there is no official ban on training, the SSFL has proposed a halt based on the advice of CMO (Chief Medical Officer) Roshan Parasram.

“We did send a letter to schools advising they should cease training for now until we get further information from the Ministry of Health. Some schools had already returned to training with the expectation the season would start in September. But because of the new cases, especially the local spread, we have suggested they discontinue training,” said Elliott.

This decision, although welcomed by reigning Coca Cola Intercol champion coach Shawn Cooper (Presentation College, San Fernando), did not sit well with his vibrant bunch of players who resumed training three weeks ago.

While Cooper was elated with the mesmerising efforts his players have shown since their anticipated return, he remains empathetic with their gloomy acceptance of the SSFL’s decision. Over the past three weeks, Cooper ensured his team practiced the required physical distancing while training in small groups.

“We got the directive (on Monday) from the principal (Dexter Mitchell) that the Ministry of Health and SSFL had agreed to stop the training. We called off our training session and everything altogether.

“The boys are very disappointed. This was the only activity they had outdoors. Even the gym work has to be stopped so they’re understandably upset. But lives are more important than the game right now. They will have to understand that,” said the title-winning coach.

Cooper remains hopeful the recent rise in locally spread cases subsides so the Ministry of Health can once again give the all clear for the resumption of training.

He added, “We hope it (virus) levels down for us to resume. We’re eagerly waiting on the official word to see what’s happening for 2021.”

Meanwhile, Naparima College and San Juan North are yet to resume training for varying reasons.

The former was instructed by principal Dr Michael Dowlath that priority would be placed on those sitting the ongoing Caribbean Secondary Education Centre and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination.

Naps’ manager Percy Samlalsingh stated, “The principal has opted for the students to focus on exams before resuming football training.

"Now with the recent rise in covid19 cases, it was a smart decision and we now wait on the health ministry to further update us,” he said.

San Juan North, however, did not resume training due to coronavirus and also pending the uncertainty if their coaches would be paid by the Ministry of Education.

School representative Stephen Clarke revealed, “We haven’t resumed training and that instruction (by SSFL) wouldn’t affect us. Apart from waiting on the Ministry of Health, one of the factors we have to consider as a government school is the payment of our coaches. Our coaches are usually paid through the Ministry of Education. We opted not to begin training because we weren’t sure if the coaches would be paid for this period here.”

When asked if any official decision had been made by the SSFL committee to host the 2020/2021 competitive season, Elliott indicated, “We must continue to monitor this situation and follow the guidelines issued by Ministry of Health.”