Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president Merere Gonzales was in an emotional state yesterday.
Gonzales expressed great relief that after two years of inactivity and “inability” to host a physical competition, secondary schools football will kick off in Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow. The resumption comes after a two-year period of inactivity brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic and Government’s subsequent restriction of sporting activity.
“At this point in time I can finally exhale,” SSFL boss Gonzales stated at yesterday’s launch of the new season at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
“I am very heartened, as the president, for a very highly-anticipated, long-awaited, highly-competitive, very much entertaining and flamboyance of the football talent that will be displayed by all student-athletes.”
The SSFL season kicks off tomorrow with the new Tiger Tanks Cup, which matches Naparima College and Presentation College, the 2019 League and InterCol winners respectively. The traditional South giants meet in the season-opening exhibition match to be played at the Ato Boldon Stadium, from 4 p.m.
The actual league competition kicks off on Wednesday in the 16-team Premier Division, which have been divided into two groups containing eight teams apiece. There will also be competition in the Championship Division, lower age groups and girls divisions.
The Premier Division season will be short. Teams will meet each other just once in their group, after which the top two teams of each group will meet in a semi-final and subsequent final to decide the league title. There will also be a Coca Cola InterCol knockout competition involving both Premier and Championship division schools from November 1.
“So many persons, local, regional and international—surprisingly but very true—are waiting with bated breath for the commencement of the 2022 SSFL season,” stated Gonzales.
Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, patron of the league, congratulated the SSFL and its sponsors for a sustained effort to aid the development of the student-athlete over the years.
“I know this season is going to be a bumper season and it is very important that it is, because we are recovering and rebounding from what was forced curtailment of all our activities by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It threw our young people into disarray almost, because it was such a time of uncertainty,” the Education minister said. “I am for one, very excited that our students are back out to school physically, challenges notwithstanding, and I am equally glad that we are able to come back to the days of InterCol and what that means to our students.”
League gets new sponsors
SSFL boss Gonzales was especially pleased with the continued investment in schools football that has been made by sponsors, among them long-serving First Citizens Bank represented yesterday by Trudy Louison and Coca Cola, represented by Anthony Lovelace, who announced that the long-serving sponsor will be bringing new initiatives to the 2022 Coca Cola InterCol competition.
The SSFL also revealed two new sponsors—The Ascension Tournament and Tigers Tanks Limited. In the absence of Ascension managing director Richard Ferguson, who was unable to attend, tournament director Kieron Edwards noted that Ascension thought it important that its first involvement in youth football be with schools football.
“We need to take it serious. We are in a time of a restart for Trinidad and Tobago football and the secondary schools league has a major part to play in that restart,” Edwards stated.
Denis Latiff, represented Tiger Tank, and disclosed that the company had sponsored several youth teams in the past. They also staged the Tiger Tanks Under-20 men’s football tournament this year and sponsored the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board’s Under-19 tournament.
Latiff announced that Tiger Tanks had pledged a minimum two years sponsorship to the schools league, beginning with the Tiger Tanks Cup, which will kick off the new season tomorrow. Tiger Tanks will also carry SSFL matches on its YouTube channel.
“The idea is to showcase as much of our talent as we can, in the hope that viewing scouts can pick the best of the best and offer some scholarships,” Latiff stated.
TIGER TANKS CUP:
4 p.m. - Presentation College San Fernando vs Naparima College, Ato Boldon Stadium
SSFL ROUND ONE:
4 p.m. - St Augustine Secondary vs Naparima College, St Augustine Secondary
4 p.m. - Carapichaima East Secondary vs Speyside High School, Ato Boldon Stadium
4 p.m. - St Benedict’s College vs Fatima College, TBA
4 p.m. - Pleasantville Secondary vs St. Anthony’s College, Manny Ramjohn training ground
4 p.m. - San Juan North Secondary vs Queen’s Royal College, San Juan North
4 p.m. - Chaguanas North Secondary vs Malick Secondary, Africa ground, Enterprise
4 p.m. - East Mucurapo vs Moruga, Fatima College
4 p.m. - Trinity College East vs Presentation College Sando, Trinity College East
SSFL ROUND 2
4 p.m. - St Benedict’s College vs Carapichaima East Secondary, St Benedict’s College
4 p.m. - Fatima College vs Naparima College, Fatima College
4 p.m. - Speyside High School vs St Anthony’s, Speyside
4 p.m. - St Augustine Secondary vs Pleasantville Secondary, St Augustine
4 p.m. - Presentation College vs Malick Secondary, Union Hall
4 p.m. - Queen’s Royal College vs East Mucurapo, QRC
4 p.m. - San Juan North Secondary vs Chaguanas North Secondary, San Juan North
4 p.m. - Trinity College East vs Moruga Secondary, Trinity College East
SOURCE: T&T Express