From this afternoon, Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) matches in the Premier and Championship Divisions will kick off at 4pm—outside of a few exceptions—as the organising committee tries to blunt the impact of the ongoing hot spell.
“Because of the directive from the Ministry of the Education, of which the schools are a significant part, re: the high level of humidity,” SSFL president Merere Gonzales told Wired868, “as a responsible organisation we want to exhibit that type of protection to our student athletes… We feel starting at a slightly later time would assist with the protection.
“The one-minute water break still remains intact, and we will continue to monitor closely. We may have to implement a three-minute cooling break but we are not there yet.”
Gonzales said games broadcast live on SportsMax or played at either Speyside High Secondary and Bishop’s High School in Tobago will continue to kick-off at 3.30pm.
So, the Mucurapo Road derby between East Mucurapo Secondary and Fatima College tomorrow starts at the regular time, along with St Benedict’s College’s trip to the Plymouth Recreation Ground to face Bishop’s High.
“The games that are broadcasted, because of the logistical issues (in adjusting the times), remain at 3.30,” said Gonzales, “and the ones at Speyside and Bishop’s—because of travel arrangements, we will allow those to remain at 3.30.”
Gonzales explained that the other divisions, including the Under-16 and Under-14, will have the flexibility to look after themselves with regards to kick off times.
“The lower divisions, simply because those are games arranged primarily by the zones and are very flexible because of arrangement between schools,” he said, “consideration is given to start later or have the one-minute water break in both halves, or even the three-minute cooler break.
“But we want to encourage schools to start later in the day.”
Gonzales thanked the SSFL’s stakeholders, including schools, teams, and sponsors, for their efforts in getting the 2023 season underway. And he noted that the league’s governing body is working hard at improving the product—starting with avoiding postponements.
“One of the issues that we had for 2022 that we don’t have as much of for 2023—but it is still an issue—is the availability of venues for home teams,” he said. “That remains a concern and we will continue to see how we can work along with the respective schools to see how they can play without unnecessary postponements, which will bring more stress as we go later on in the season.
“But it is a very heartening, encouraging and a welcome sign to see that 100-plus schools are involved in the various divisions across the board.”
The Mucurapo Road derby is arguably the pick of the fixtures on Wednesday, with Fatima and East Mucurapo both claiming a maximum of six points from their opening two matches.
Presentation College (San Fernado), who are unbeaten, host a San Juan North Secondary outfit that also have a 100 percent record. And misfiring champions, St Benedict’s, will hope for their first points of the season away to Bishop’s in Tobago.
At Serpentine Road in St Clair, two newly promoted teams, St Mary’s College and Arima North Secondary, clash in the top flight—after the “Saints” edged the “Dial Dynamos” to the SSFL Big Five title at the Arima Velodrome last December.
2023 SSFL Premier Division
(Wednesday 20 September)
East Mucurapo vs Fatima College, Fatima Ground, 3.30pm;
Bishop’s High vs St Benedict’s College, Plymouth Recreation Ground, 3.30pm;
Malick Secondary vs Chaguanas North, QRC Ground, 4pm;
St Mary’s College vs Arima North, Serpentine Road, 4pm;
Naparima College vs Pleasantville Secondary, Lewis Street, 4pm;
Presentation (San F’do) vs San Juan North, Manny Ramjohn Stadium, 4pm;
St Anthony’s College vs Speyside High, Westmoorings, 4pm;
Trinity East vs QRC, Trincity, 4pm.