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Miracle Ministries coach Kern Cupid, second from left, talks to his players during a SSFL game. PHOTO BY: Daniel Prentice

Miracle Ministries Pentecostal High School football coach Kern Cupid was handed a three-game ban by the Secondary Schools Football League's (SSFL) disciplinary committee on Friday, for his role in a flare-up in the Big 5 championship division playoff match on February 20.

In a goalless draw between Signal Hill Secondary and his Miracle Ministries team in Tobago, Cupid reacted aggressively to taunting by Signal Hill defender Imanhi Forbes, who ran towards the Miracle Ministries bench pointing as he celebrated what he believed to be his team's winning goal in the match.

As he approached the bench next to Cupid, the coach grabbed the Signal Hill player and shoved him to the side before Forbes' teammates joined the melee and charged toward the Miracle Ministries dugout.

The incident brewed for a couple of minutes before the technical staff of both teams quelled the rage of both sets of players. The goal was ruled out for a hand-ball infringement.

In a chat with Newsday on Friday, SSFL disciplinary committee chairman Essiel Seecharan confirmed Cupid's suspension. And though he says Cupid and Miracle Ministries have the right to appeal, the suspension will carry over into the 2024 SSFL premier division as the Big 5 competition ended on March 8.

Seecharan spoke of the factors which led to the league's decision.

"There was some physicality shown by the coach. He shoved the young man," Seecharan told Newsday. "He was physically aggressive towards the player."

Seccharan said the committee felt Cupid's reaction to Forbes' taunting was the main reason for the fracas that followed.

In an immediate reaction to the ruling, Cupid said it was “disappointing for the game to end in the manner it did.”

He said tensions were high in the physical match and his staff were doing their utmost to ensure the game did not spiral out of control like it eventually did.

The Miracle Ministries coach said his reaction to Forbes was an “instinctual” one, and he claimed he was simply trying to remove Forbes from his team’s technical area as he felt the opposing player deliberately tried to antagonise his players.

Cupid said he accepted the league’s decision and he is “happy our objective of getting premiership promotion” was achieved.

On March 8, both Signal Hill and Miracle Ministries clinched premier division promotion, as they took the second and third spots on the Big 5 table. Miracle Ministries (five points) gained promotion despite suffering a 3-0 loss to Big 5 champions St Augustine Secondary (ten points) in the final round.

Meanwhile, Signal Hill (seven points) dramatically got two stoppage-time goals from Forbes as they got a 2-1 comeback win against Blanchisseuse Secondary to seal their promotion spot.

Needing a victory to clinch promotion in front of their home fans, Forbes' goals sparked wild celebration among the Signal Hill faithful in a contentious game which saw Blanchisseuse players Roger Kirk and Zakiyus Kirk being red-carded.

On Tuesday, the disciplinary committee will meet again when they deal with two matters arising from the Signal Hill and Blanchisseuse matchup. The red cards issued to the Kirks will be one of the topics of discussion, and a fracas at the end of the game involving players and fans will be the next item on the agenda.

Last week, Blanchisseuse manager Kevon Palmer claimed "dubious calls" cost his team the game and subsequent promotion. He also blamed the refereeing decisions by Keon Yorke for the fracas at the end of the high-stakes match. After Forbes' second goal, the game descended into chaos as fans stormed the field to square up with players.

Seecharan described the matter as sensitive as it involves the protection and safety of children, and he said the league is treating the case seriously.

Contacted for comment, Signal Hill coach Downie Marcelle said he will reserve his statements for next week when the verdict is handed down by the SSFL. He also declined comment on the outcome of Friday's hearing, as he said he was not privy to the news of Cupid's suspension.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday

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