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San Juan North ruling expected in midweek; new SSFL president vows to go digital

New Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president William Wallace has vowed to take schools football into the digital age, introduce an office and full-time secretariat for the body and strengthen ties with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Wallace, the former SSFL first vice-president and a past Secondary Schools Cricket League president, was elected unopposed to the helm of the school football executive on Saturday 1 April after former president Anthony Creed opted not to seek re-election.

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College stand-in captain Tyrel "Pappy" Emmanuel (right) takes on St Mary's College defender Nathan Harte during SSFL Premier Division action at Lachoo Road on 19 October 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College stand-in captain Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel (right) takes on St Mary’s College defender Nathan Harte during SSFL Premier Division action at Lachoo Road on 19 October 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Wallace also served as manager of the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team squad under former coach Stephen Hart and managed several national youth teams in football and cricket.

The ascension of the Carapichaima East teacher apart, there was little change in the SSFL executive. Phillip Fraser (San Juan North) moved from second to first vice-president while Azaad Khan (formerly of Malick), Gerard Elliot (formerly of St Benedict’s) and Lawrence Seepersad (Carapichaima East) held on to their portfolios as general secretary, assistant secretary admin and assistant secretary operations respectively.

Trinity College Moka teacher Tevon La Rose is the only new inclusion on the executive and will serve as second vice-president.

The first order of business, though, is the controversial matter of the use of ineligible players during the 2016 Premier Division, which will impact on the line-up of schools in the top division this year. Presentation College (San Fernando) and East Mucurapo Secondary were both penalised for using ineligible players last season.

Presentation, who were punished for flouting SSFL rules through the use of Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 defender Kori Cupid, accepted their charge—although they insisted it was an inadvertent error. As a result, an alteration in the points tally of affected teams saw Queen’s Royal College belatedly climb out of the relegation places with San Juan North, the 2016 Coca Cola Intercol champions, taking their place.

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) midfielder Kori Cupid (centre) tries to tug back Naparima College playmaker Justin Sadoo (right) during the 2015 South Intercol final in Marabella. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) midfielder Kori Cupid (centre) tries to tug back Naparima College playmaker Justin Sadoo (right) during the 2015 South Intercol final in Marabella.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

East Mucurapo, who fielded lower six student and defender Abdus Ramcharan with three passes—one shy of the required four passes of sixth form students—opted to appeal the SSFL’s decision against the school. And, after losing that, chose to go to arbitration.

Wallace refused to publicly share the decision of the arbitration panel, although it has already been forwarded to the affected schools. However, Wired868 understands that the arbitration panel ruled against Mucurapo.

It means that Mucurapo East will also be relegated while Fatima College escape at the death.

But there is one last decision to be made. Should San Juan North receive special dispensation to stay up next season?

The boys from Bourg Mulatresse appeared to have done enough to survive at the end of last season, only to have the rug pulled out from under them due to the indiscretions of other teams. The counter-argument, of course, is they have only themselves to blame for not amassing enough points to stay afloat, especially with a team that had enough talent to win the National Intercol crown.

There is precedence for the relegation of the Intercol champions, as East Mucurapo were demoted despite clinching the prestigious knock out trophy in 2014.

Photo: St Anthony's College defender Ronaldo Jacob (right) tackles East Mucurapo Secondary captain Aquinde Marslin during the North Zone Intercol semifinal at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 16 November 2016. (Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: St Anthony’s College defender Ronaldo Jacob (right) tackles East Mucurapo Secondary captain Aquinde Marslin during the North Zone Intercol semifinal at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 16 November 2016.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Wallace believes the SSFL can avoid a repeat of such a fiasco with office staff and a computerised database.

“I sent a letter out to the Minister of Sport asking for office space for the SSFL and we are hoping to get space [at the Ato Boldon Stadium] in Couva, which is a centralised location,” Wallace told Wired868. “We are now 50 years old and we have been operating out of a car trunk for that length of time. With TT$2 million annually coming into this league, it is about time we have a steady secretariat. Some of the problems we have been having in the past were probably because [we did not have] that.

“Also we want to have a computerised database [which will] eliminate some of the problems that happened last season… We already have somebody setting up the required databases for us.”

Another proposal by the new SSFL president include a first responder program, which will ensure that schools have the capability to act decisively in medical emergencies. In this case, Wallace had an eye on the tragic death of Jamaican schoolboy Dominic James, which occured during a match on the north Caribbean island last September.

He also wants to create a SSFL website and a public forum that would allow feedback on areas that the league can improve. And, while former executives often said that the schoolboys league was about recreation for students, Wallace wants to do more to help the TTFA source and develop talent.

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College coach Hayden Ryan (centre) poses with school supporters after their 3-0 SSFL Premier Division win over St Mary's College at Lachoo Road on 19 October 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College coach Hayden Ryan (centre) poses with school supporters after their 3-0 SSFL Premier Division win over St Mary’s College at Lachoo Road on 19 October 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

In July, he hopes to have ‘B’ and ‘C’ licence courses for school coaches while he will reach out to the TTFA on the matter of talent identification for national youth teams.

“We all have the same objective but we are operating in silos,” said Wallace. “I think the secondary schools have a crucial role to play in the development of youth football because we have the resources, the facilities and we have the young men and women for about six hours a day, five days a week.

“So we want the TTFA to sit with us and work out how we can have a formal arrangement to help raise the level of the football.”

Still, Wallace has much to appreciate in the platform left by his predecessor, Creed. A former Diego Martin Secondary PE teacher, Creed served on the SSFL executive since 1994 and became president in 2013.

During his tenure, local school’s football entered the Premier Division era in 2014 while there was also a landmark US$1.5 million television rights deal with Digicel/SportsMax that started last season.

Photo: Fyzabad Secondary captain Sharkeel Louison (centre) celebrates his goal against St Anthony's College with a somersault in SSFL Premier Division action on 24 September 2016 at Fyzabad. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Fyzabad Secondary captain Sharkeel Louison (centre) celebrates his goal against St Anthony’s College with a somersault in SSFL Premier Division action on 24 September 2016 at Fyzabad.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Creed said he feels especially proud of the opportunities provided by SportsMax’s airing of matches in the United States and Canada which have led to scholarship opportunities for players from schools outside of the beaten path.

“Some schools already have links with colleges abroad but there are still many that don’t,” Creed told Wired868. “So the SportsMax coverage meant universities were calling them for information on particular players and it increased the landscape for scholarship opportunities. Some student footballers also asked SportsMax for clips which they got and shared with scouts…

“There were a number of people who questioned the [Premier Division] system when we started and I told them to wait and have a talk with me again after a year. Most of them came back to me and said it served its purpose.”

Creed also explained why the big money television deal did not lead to inflated cash prizes for successful teams, as some had hoped.

“Some schools were very interested in increasing prize money and I insisted that all schools should benefit [from the television rights money],” said Creed, who ensured that all 112 schools received between TT$8,000 to TT$11,000 for the season. “The alumni schools have their system in place and do well but the government schools sometimes struggle to fund their teams and they were grateful for the extra help.

Photo: Feel like dancing! Malix Ottey (centre) and his Diego Martin North Secondary teammates show off some dance moves during their North Zone Intercol contest with Blanchisseuse Secondary at the St Mary's College ground in St Clair on 2 November 2016. Diego Martin North won 4-1. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Feel like dancing! Malix Ottey (centre) and his Diego Martin North Secondary teammates show off some dance moves during their North Zone Intercol contest with Blanchisseuse Secondary at the St Mary’s College ground in St Clair on 2 November 2016.
Diego Martin North won 4-1.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“This is not a professional league, it is about development. But that was just me and, going forward, it is up to the schools to decide what they want.

“I, Anthony Creed never ever had ambitions to become president of secondary schools football. They asked me and I did my best. And although last year we voted to have stipends for administrators, I begged that it start in the first week of April when I knew I would have demitted office. It was my pleasure to serve gratis.”

Creed offered a vote of confidence for his successor, Wallace, who worked alongside him for eight years on the SSFL executive.

“I am confident that the new president can take the league forward,” said Creed. “He has the experience and the knowledge and I know that schools football is in good hands.”

Wallace’s tenure will start with an emotive decision though.

Will the SSFL executive send San Juan North down to the second tier alongside Pleasantville Secondary and East Mucurapo? Or should they stay up in a 16-team league that also includes newly promoted Speyside Secondary, Carapichaima East and Trinity College East?

Photo: San Juan North Secondary midfielder Jerome Cyrus (left) is lifted bodily by a schoolmate after their 2016 National Intercol final win over Presentation College (San Fernando) at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 2 December 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: San Juan North Secondary midfielder Jerome Cyrus (left) is lifted bodily by a schoolmate after their 2016 National Intercol final win over Presentation College (San Fernando) at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 2 December 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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34 comments

  1. Yeah. You won some money from Jim In a fair game of poker but police held Jim who committed a robbery the night before. Police gonna come to recover the money from you.

  2. So jus to clarify… San Juan beat the side that was “cheating” but because the teams that lost against them got the 3pts added at the end of te season, they ended up with less points? So they kind of being punished for triumphing against the odds in that game?

  3. I feel for San Juan but once the rules applies evenly to everyone then it is fair. The teams that played ineligible players were punished according to the sanctions decided bynthe league. If the result is another team gets demotion then so be it but the rules must be applied evenly to all involved

  4. I don’t see anyone taking away anything but maybe I missed something..

  5. You do know they are just students, they have to prepare for exams, good thing it’s not like European Leauges

  6. maximum time spent during school hours for school work…. and also it would encorage all players to be in class for the majority of the school year and not just football term

  7. SEP-APR WITH GAME DAYS FOR PREMIER DIV BEING FRIDAY AND SATURDAY only and played on a home and away basis….. both days should have games to facillitate the fans being able to get full view of the players and teams

  8. No competition that runs for 2mths can develop a player…..proper contact hrs with the ball is the only way a player can fully develop…..so can we pleeeeeeeease get over this ting about a 2mth league being about development….without academies and clubs…school footballl would be sooooo poor…

  9. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT BOTH PRESENTATION AND MUCURAPO BANNED FROM THE LEAGUE FOR 2 YEARS FOR BREACH OF ELIGIBILITY RULES…. AND UPON RETURN START AFRESH FROM THE SENIOR DIVISION…… AND THAT IT SHOULD BE PUT IN PLACE FOR ALL FUTURE SCHOOLS WHO WISH TO FLAUT THE RULES…

  10. What happened to san Juan and mucurapo is wrong once again the prestige/ white boy school get a Bligh and the ghetto school get the axe

  11. Think better relations between SSFL and ttfa can be really beneficial.

  12. Thanks very much for the comprehensive update.

  13. Good luck Mr.wallace all blessings!!!