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Presentation survive Shiva Boys protest over Lee Yaw; San Juan North sunk

A late protest threatened to produce a final unexpected twist to the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division honour role, as a Shiva Boys Hindu College challenge against Presentation College (San Fernando) offered a glimmer of hope to relegation-threatened San Juan North Secondary.

Presentation forward James Alex Lee Yaw was at the centre of the furore as Shiva Boys questioned whether his academic qualification were sufficient for him to represent his school in the SSFL last season.

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) forward James Alex Lee Yaw (far right) tries to escape from a Shiva Boys Hindu College opponent during the South Zone Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 18 November 2016. Presentation won on kicks from the penalty mark. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) forward James Alex Lee Yaw (far right) tries to escape from a Shiva Boys Hindu College opponent during the South Zone Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 18 November 2016.
Presentation won on kicks from the penalty mark.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Lee Yaw, who was born in the United States to a Trinidadian father, began his local school life in Lower Six at Presentation. However, he got seven subjects at Grade 12, which is supposedly the American equivalent of the CXC test.

The SSFL rules stipulate that a player must have four CXC passes to represent his school in Lower Six.

Presentation had already lost one protest last season over the use of Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 defender Kori Cupid, who was ineligible to compete due to the year he entered secondary school. Cupid played roughly one quarter of his school’s games and the ruling meant that the “Pres Lions” dropped from second to fifth in the final standings.

Had Lee Yaw been also deemed an illegitimate player, Presentation would have been relegated. However, the SSFL credentials committee, appeals committee and, ultimately, the Ministry of Education’s accreditation committee all declared the teenager to be a legitimate student.

The decision meant Presentation held on to the South Zone Intercol title, which they won after edging Shiva Boys on kicks from the penalty mark. And, better yet, they remain a top flight team for the upcoming season.

However, it is likely to be the final nail in the coffin for San Juan North, who finished one place and a solitary point above the relegation zone at the end of the season, only to have the rug pulled from under their feet as protests against Cupid and East Mucurapo Secondary defender Abdus Ramcharan—who had three CXC passes—saw points belatedly awarded to Queen’s Royal College and Fatima College.

Photo: Fatima College's Jonathan Casimire (left) tries to hold off Presentation College's Kori Cupid in 2015 SSFL action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Fatima College’s Jonathan Casimire (left) tries to hold off Presentation College’s Kori Cupid in 2015 SSFL action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

QRC and Fatima both leapfrogged San Juan North to escape demotion while East Mucurapo dropped places to the foot of the 15-team table where they will also be relegated along with Pleasantville Secondary.

Presentation coach Shawn Cooper said he was never worried about the Shiva Boys protest.

“I think Shiva Boys have to know, just like us, that you win some and you lose some,” Cooper told Wired868. “They were a bit disturbed when they lost to us in the South Intercol final and the Big Four semifinal. So they decided to go that route…

“We only played the boy after he was granted permission by the Ministry and the Secondary Schools board. The boy was in school and we didn’t play him until he was cleared. He is a legal student of the school, so I don’t know what the protest was really about.”

The dust has finally cleared from the protest board and it does not look good for San Juan North. SSFL president William Wallace confirmed that there is no scheduled meeting to consider a special provision to keep the National Intercol champions up and play with an additional Premier Division school next season.

The only delay in the final decision for the boys from Bourg Mulatresse is due to the wait in getting signatures from the relevant arbitrators.

Photo: The San Juan North Secondary football team dances away with the East Zone Intercol trophy after edging St Augustine Secondary 2-1 in the final at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar on 21 November 2016. (Courtesy Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)
Photo: The San Juan North Secondary football team dances away with the East Zone Intercol trophy after edging St Augustine Secondary 2-1 in the final at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar on 21 November 2016.
(Courtesy Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

It will be the second time that the reigning Intercol champions were relegated, after East Mucurapo managed the dubious distinction in 2014. But the off-field circumstances make San Juan North’s fall much harder to swallow.

Cooper said he sympathised with San Juan North, although he felt Presentation had been unfairly castigated in certain quarters for an inadvertent error regarding Cupid.

“When you see talk about banning a school for information it doesn’t have, you know people are speaking on emotion,” said Cooper. “It is unfortunate for San Juan the way things spun out but it was just the luck of the draw… I wouldn’t have liked to be in San Juan’s position. It is very unfortunate.”

Wallace told Wired868, in a previous interview, that the SSFL has requested office space from the Ministry of Sport and hopes to have a full-time secretariat in place for the upcoming season, which should help to lessen the likelihood of similar post-season upheavals.

“We are now 50 years old and we have been operating out of a car trunk for that time,” said Wallace. “With $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.

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College playmaker Judah Garcia (left) prepares to shoot during SSFL Premier Division action against Signal Hill in Tobago on 5 October 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)
Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College playmaker Judah Garcia (left) prepares to shoot during SSFL Premier Division action against Signal Hill in Tobago on 5 October 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

“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.”

Cooper said he urged the SSFL to hire office staff for years and was happy to hear that it is finally a priority.

“Instead of allowing things to happen and then penalising, [the SSFL should be able to] call the school beforehand and warn about possible issues,” said Cooper. “San Juan didn’t do anything wrong and they got demoted because documents went in from another school that were not checked. I’m not blaming anyone but we have to get tighter in the running of the league.”

In 2016, Presentation was runner-up in the National Intercol and Big Four finals while they were second in the Premier Division before the Cupid protest. Cooper insisted it was a great season for the San Fernando school.

“We exceeded our expectations in getting into all the finals,” he said. “I don’t think trophies alone is the benchmark for success. If your child doesn’t come first in test, [you will tell them] they failed?”

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) coach Shawn Cooper (centre) gestures from the sidelines during their SSFL Big Four semifinal contest against Shiva Boys Hindu College on 9 December 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) coach Shawn Cooper (centre) gestures from the sidelines during their SSFL Big Four semifinal contest against Shiva Boys Hindu College on 9 December 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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40 comments

  1. You couldn’t even change school to repeat without at least three passes back in my day I think.

  2. San Juan situation is unbearable to swallow how can a team get relegated for something they did not do they did no wrong but is being punished what kind of organization constitution or disciplinary committee allows something like that. It’s like being charged for a crime the neighbour commit. Crazy SSFL

    • The other argument would be that San Juan North just did not get enough points to be safe. As disappointing as it obviously is to be relegated after you thought you had done enough.

    • When teams are competing in a league they always watching the table and teams that not in a position to win or place themselves in the top four may just do enough to survive the relegation zone so once they know they have enough points to survive they sometimes use the opportunity to let younger players gain a bit of experience. I am not saying that this was the case with San Juan I don’t know but it is possible.

  3. These schools just using the kids and don’t care what happens to them after school

  4. So four subjects for football to write A levels and the rest is five plus. So these footballers going on to A levels with out full certificate or five pass.

    • Which is nonsense in my book. One standard should define eligibility across the board for academics and extracurricular activities. That’s a recipe for chaos, not to mention an equal opportunities lawsuit waiting to happen.

  5. Was it always 4 passes to get into 6th Form?..thought was 5.

  6. While I am glad that my Alma mater is in the clear concerning this issue, I think that there are several aspects of the matter that need addressing. And not just the lack of a full time secretariat. I honestly feel that there should be a unified rule concerning what qualifies an individual to be a bona fide student at the school. Because it appears that eligibility criteria differs widely if the student wants to represent the school in football, cricket, chess, choir, debating, Maths Olympiad, etc.
    Also, in this instance, one must realise that there has to be some level of equivalent academic qualifications for a student coming from outside of T&T’s school system.
    SSFL – the ball has been booted deep in your half; let’s see if you can carry it forward to scoring positive goals for the league!

  7. Btw the kid any relation to Jerome Lee Yaw who played for Naps late 80’s-early 90’s?

  8. We beating dem one way or another!