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Fri, Jan

Football skills challenge to replace SSFL.
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A football skills challenge is being proposed as an alternative for this year's Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) if the League is unable to be held due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which continues to affect sports in Trinidad and Tobago.

The tournament was cancelled last year, among all other sports when the pandemic hit countries across the globe, but the former teacher and FIFA referee, who is also a contender for this year's SSFL Elections Merere Gonzales is putting forward a challenge with the skills of the game to suffice, should the ravaging effect of the coronavirus continues this year.

The skills of football include heading, dribbling the ball, shooting, passing, and trapping or collecting the ball, all of which will be on display for the students/players to show their skills in.

Gonzales told Guardian Media Sports on Friday that,"At this point in time, for almost 10 months now, in a season which was abandoned because of the COVID-19, players, the student-athletes, especially those who are knocking on the doors either for national selection, or scholarship or even those who may wish to go straight on and pursue a professional contract, there are a lot more obstacles and constraints now.

So I think what has to be done, despite the turmoil of the sport between the TTFA and the FIFA, that the SSFL has remained the shining light in the country, and in light of that, I think it is imperative and necessary that if there's any semblance of revamping, the SSFL needs to also be instrumental in doing that by providing the platform for the student-athletes. If things remain as they are, and the threat of life and limb continues to remain, I feel we can engage the student-athlete, even if it is a skill challenge competition."

Gonzales, who will be one of two candidates to challenge interim president Phillip Fraser for the top spot in the SSFL annual general meeting (AGM) in March, said interested persons will be updated on the virtual platform.

The challenge could first begin at the various zones and will progress afterwards, similar to what is done in the regular season.

He made it clear, this is providing that the SSFL, is unable to have the normal 11 versus 11 play, saying: "So at least the football fraternity and the football body, and in this case, the SSFL, will still be making a meaningful input to engage the students and athletes."

The former referee believes the COVID-19 situation has led to a build-up of anxieties which have also triggered fear and doubt and could lead to loss of interest.