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San Juan survive! SSFL members defy executive and standings to keep Bourg boys in top flight

On the same day that the new Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) executive committee unveiled its fixtures for the 2017 season came a decision that will force a do-over.

San Juan North Secondary are back in the Premier Division, despite the drawn out process of their relegation from the top flight—seven months after the last ball was kicked in the 2016 season.

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)

This afternoon, at an extraordinary meeting of the SSFL general council at the Carapichaima East Secondary school, the membership voted 20 to 18 in favour of a motion to keep San Juan in the Premier Division.

The motion was moved by San Juan North vice-principal Joseph Taylor, who is also the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTRFA), and implied that the school suffered unjustly owing to the shortcomings of various SSFL committees.

East Mucurapo Secondary and Presentation College (San Fernando) used schoolboys Abdus Ramcharan and Kori Cupid respectively in violation of SSFL rules. Cupid played a handful of games for the “Pres Lions” while Ramcharan represented Mucurapo for much of their season.

The SSFL credentials committee failed to spot the wrongdoing, which eventually came to light after protests by St Benedict’s College and Naparima College.

The SSFL disciplinary committee’s sanctions to either school for the violations—which came after the end of the season—meant a late rejig of the standings. And Queen’s Royal College (QRC) and Fatima College climbed out of the demotion zone as a result while Mucurapo and San Juan went in the opposite direction.

Photo: Queen's Royal College playmaker John-Paul Rochford (left) tries to keep the ball from St Anthony's College winger Haile Beckles during SSFL action at QRC grounds on 26 October 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Queen’s Royal College playmaker John-Paul Rochford (left) tries to keep the ball from St Anthony’s College winger Haile Beckles during SSFL action at QRC grounds on 26 October 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

The SSFL appeals committee and an independent tribunal rejected Mucurapo’s appeals.

Today, representatives from 20 schools voted to ignore the final standings and keep San Juan up anyway owing to the extenuating circumstances. No team will be demoted in their place and the competition now changes from 15 to 16 teams.

New SSFL president William Wallace confirmed the decision of the extraordinary meeting.

“The situation is we have to go with a 16-team Premier Division,” said Wallace. “At this point, this is what it looks like.”

Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to contact Taylor and San Juan coach Jerry Moe. Phillip Fraser, the San Juan North manager, said he did not wish to say much since he was also an SSFL vice-president. But he left little doubt about his feelings on the matter.

“I am elated,” said Fraser.

Wired868 understands that San Juan North’s survival owed much to political manoeuvring. There was, according to a source, an unusually high turnout of schools from east Trinidad who helped push Joseph’s motion through.

Photo: San Juan Secondary striker Renaldo Boyce (centre) and his teammates celebrate after their 1-0 win over Presentation College (San Fernando) in the National Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 6 December 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: San Juan Secondary striker Renaldo Boyce (centre) and his teammates celebrate after their 1-0 win over Presentation College (San Fernando) in the National Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 6 December 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

It created some unease within the ranks of the SSFL executive.

Was today’s decision for San Juan North a vote for morality and a sign that schools were prepared to take the initiative to save a member who was hard done by the law?

Or was it courting anarchy and disorder to retrospectively overturn the league standings and rule book? Could teams now ensure their survival by votes rather than points?

“My personal view is we have rules and are guided by the rules,” Wallace told Wired868. “You cannot change them after the fact. Going forward if you think you want to change rules then fine but not after the fact…

“However, the membership has spoken and therefore we have to abide by that.”

From a logistical standpoint, the impact of San Juan North’s reprieve is minimal. With 15 teams, one school had a bye on each SSFL match day. San Juan North will now be simply pencilled in to do away with the bye.

But what happens at the end of the season? Would four teams go down and three come up to create a 15-team competition once more? Or will the top flight remain at sweet 16?

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College maestro Tyrel "Pappy" Emmanuel (right) tries to shake off Presentation College (San Fernando) midfielder Terrell Williams during the South Zone Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 18 November 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College maestro Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel (right) tries to shake off Presentation College (San Fernando) midfielder Terrell Williams during the South Zone Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 18 November 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Wallace said it is a matter that the SSFL General Council will need to consider.

“There were two meetings today: an extraordinary meeting and a General Council meeting,” said Wallace. “The General Council made the decision that the three teams at the bottom of the table would go down and three [other] teams come up. So that has not changed.

“What happened is that, regardless of that, the extraordinary meeting decided that San Juan North should not go down. So only two teams go down from last season.”

The SSFL 2017 season will kick off on Thursday 8 September 2017 with a double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Newly promoted Carapichaima East face Fatima in the curtain raiser while defending champions Shiva Boys Hindu College tackle Big Four winners Naparima College in the feature affair.

San Juan North, the 2016 Intercol champions, should be in action not too long afterwards.

Photo: Party time! San Juan North Secondary students savour the moment after their school's 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: Party time! San Juan North Secondary students savour the moment after their school’s 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 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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78 comments

  1. Would like to know the final breakdown of points taken away from Mucurapo and Presentation,to determine the final standing. Were all Presentation’s games reversed or just some?

    • Only the games in which the illegitimate players were used were penalised for both teams. Mucurapo used their player for three quarter of their season while Presentation did not (partly because he was also a national under-20 player and partly because they stopped using him when they heard of protest).

  2. San Juan shouldn’t be punished. Had they known prior to, their organisation for games and the league would’ve been different.
    However, the inefficiency by the credentials committee is evident, but guess what. We have people who on these committees voting !!!

    The penalties for Mucurapo and Pres needs to be severe despite the inefficiencies of the committees.
    If the Police can’t catch the thief it doesn’t make the thief less culpable.

  3. Thanks for the update Brian Jordan. Interesting times.

  4. Ryan De Gannes is saying that the “right decision has been made”. A decision was made that apparently will stand…doesn’t mean it’s the right one.
    #farfromright #dangerousprecedent

  5. And we wonder why the young people don’t respect rules and laws. we disregard the rules when it impacts on us and expect people to respect them

  6. This country…this country… and we wanna blame and scorn politicians?

  7. whats the purpose of an executive if the general council could take a position and pass by a simple vote?

    • Well that’s another story. But relegation should not have been on the cards for this from the get go IMO

    • well then Mucurapo should also not have been relegated

    • Ryan De Gannes…u have rules…if the rukes were the team that transgressed forfeit points …then thats the rules…quite frankly I think the team that transgressed shiuld lose more than three points.. but the real question is whose really responsible…the school?..of the credentials committee?

    • I believe Mucurapo were already in the relegation picture. San Juan went down purely through the reallocation of points. If relegation is the punishment then the teams who dishonestly fielded the overage players should be the ones.

      Although even then, to punish young players for the misdeeds of adult administrators is counterproductive. School football is only for a very short window and during that time scholarships etc are at stake.

    • The school supposed to screen their intakes. The credentials committee is like an auditor, they can determine that something fishy has occurred but they don’t do the actually company accounts.

      Schools choose to intentionally or unintentionally flout rules in the pursuit of trophies. Entirely the wrong focus at this level, but that’s another story. They should be punished, not the players.

    • well Ryan De Gannes..if yuh feel football bad…cricket worse…tadpole play fuh princes town when he was bout 20

    • Hahaha well yeah coaches and parents living vicariously through the players and forgetting the core essence of school sports.

  8. steups…wereal jokey in this place yes

  9. I think in schoolboy football more is at stake than just relegation. The futures of these boys as well as the school itself may be imperiled due to the dishonesty of a few adults. While I understand that there are rules and that those rules, if followed would mean San Juan are relegated, I believe the right decision has been made. This result is in line with the spirit of school sports which is primarily about development.

    The reallocation of points and the rejig of standings is punishment enough IMO.

  10. Finally commonsense prevail….San Juan North deserve to be in the Premiership.

  11. one set of rules were broken then another set were bent.
    Trini style!

  12. After winning two knockout trophies in one season it really ain’t gonna be right to get relegated. I glad for them.

  13. No trouble. Would like to know what are the role and functions of the Exec and Discipline Committee

  14. Seems like democracy at work to me. Also its a game.

  15. I am so happy for San Juan as a school and Jerry Moe as a Coach. Alhamdulilah

  16. The vice principal said the school suffered due to the shortcomings of various SSFLcommittees…allyuh better organise the rules to kick out school s who breach the rules….

  17. Political pressure?? Precedent being set could mean trouble later.

  18. What is the difference between San Juan’s case and Mucurapo’s?

  19. Uh… so from now on people just got to show up with their geographical crew and they’ll get what they want?
    Is Mucurapo staying down?
    Did San Juan North ever appeal to the SSFL appeals committee and an independent tribunal as Mucurapo did?

  20. I tired of this whole saga. It take too damn long to sort it out. And I eh agree with San Juan staying up. It was ah hard luck scene.