POST-PANDEMIC challenges at some secondary schools have forced a restructuring of the 2022 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL).
This was confirmed by the league’s operations assistant secretary Laurence Seepersad at Wednesday’s welcome return and launch of the new season at the T&T Football Association’s Technical Centre, Ato Boldon Stadium, Balmain, Couva.
The league kicks off next Wednesday at four venues. On Friday, at the Ato Boldon Stadium from 4.30pm, an exhibition match between south’s behemoths Presentation College, San Fernando and Naparima College serves as a pre-tournament opener.
Seepersad said the SSFL premiership division will now comprise two groups of four teams each.
“There are less teams this year as a result of the many challenges some of the schools have been faced with, financial and infrastructure, so they are not in a position to produce all the teams we are accustomed with,” he said.
Particularly, there is only one school from Tobago – Speyside High School – in the premiership this year.
On the new structure, Seepersad added, “We looked at the standings at the end of the 2019 season and took all the odd numbers and placed them in one group and the even numbers, placed in another.
“At the end of our league stage, we will have two semi-finals with the winners of group A playing the second place (team) in Group B and the winners of Group B against the Group A second place (team). The winners here will play in a grand final to determine the winners of the premiership division.”
The last place teams in each group will be relegated to the championship division. Teams finishing just above them in the groups will contest a playoff to see who stay in the top flight while the other head to the second division.
He added, “The championship division continues with five zones; six teams each. At the end of the season we will have a big five competition and the first three teams will be promoted to the premiership.
“All other division like U16, U14 and form one football are all on stream and scheduled. It’s a packed 2022 season.”
Meanwhile, Tiger Tanks joined longstanding league sponsors First Citizens and Coca Cola as main partners for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
Regional manager Dennis Latiff said he was pleased to expand the company’s reach into youth development through sport.
Through Tiger Tanks’ YouTube channel and other media, matches will be broadcast live in an effort to market the talents of young players to local, regional and international scouts.
“Games will be carried live, for the first time I think, on Flow, Sportsmax, Tiger Sports YouTube channel (produced by Rodeo Communications), on radio and social media.
“The idea is to showcase as much of our talent as we can in the hope that viewing scouts an pick the best of the best and offer scholarships.
“All matches will be on Tiger Sports YouTube channels for athletes to go back and view their games and can use footage to potential connections or scouts for scholarships and other football opportunities,” Latiff said.
In related news, Minister of Education Nyan Gadsby-Dolly welcomed the return of the SSFL and will serve as its patron.
SOURCE: T&T Newsday