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Dear Editor: The Fyzabad Effect; an SSFL insider suggests how to clean up the League

“The Ministry of Education, TTFA and SSFL, embarrassed into action, may formulate rules and procedures that will affect all schools in Trinidad and Tobago…

“The result may be a longer wait for approvals and possible later start for sixth form and repeaters.”

The following blog, provided anonymously by a Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) insider, offers suggestions for the schoolboys football league to respond to the controversies of the 2017 Premier Division season:

Photo: Fyzabad Secondary head coach Brian Williams gives instruction to his squad during SSFL action against Trinity College East on 20 September at Trincity.
Looking on are (from right to left) assistant coach Kerry Jamerson, team manager Nigel Lakhan and principal Troy Jebodhsingh.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Legendary football manager Bill Shankly stated that “Football is a simple game complicated by idiots.” As a stakeholder, I can safely say that the 2017 Secondary School Football League (SSFL) season has been complicated!

The recent issue involving the suspension of Fyzabad Secondary School has caused much embarrassment and finger-pointing. The SSFL’s use of online registration for the 2017 season was supposed to eliminate issues that may cause players to be ineligible. However, it was not designed to detect fraudulent documentation or Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA)/SSFL transfers.

In every crisis, there is opportunity and this occurrence has resulted in public discussion and introspection on the way forward.

If 2017 will be remembered for the complications of administrative failings at our Premier Division schools, then 2018 will be the year national administrations strike back—with far-reaching implications.

The Ministry of Education, TTFA and SSFL, embarrassed into action, may formulate rules and procedures that will affect all schools in Trinidad and Tobago.

Photo: Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president William Wallace (centre) greets players before kick-off in an SSFL match-up between Shiva Boys Hindu College and Naparima College at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 8 September 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Permit me to highlight the following steps the Ministry of Education may take:

1. Stringent review of documents: Policies may be enacted to ensure that documents received by the Ministry are genuine. The current procedure in verifying the validity of a student’s certificate may be reviewed. They may also indicate clear lines of accountability and the procedures to follow should there be an infringement.

The result may be a longer wait for approvals and possible later start for sixth form and repeaters. Also, new procedures to verify students’ documentation may be costly, time-consuming, and/or bureaucratic.

2. Workshops: As a result of the aforementioned, teachers and administrators will be subject to workshops on registration, documentation and detection issues and the procedures should a matter arise.

3. Principals may be held to an even higher standard: Because of the actions of a few, schools are being embarrassed and it has created an unwanted perception in the mind of the public. Many students are now being denied the opportunity to showcase their talents and school morale may be affected as a result. Principals may be sternly charged with ensuring such events do not occur under their watch with consequences clearly outlined.

4. Secondment for SSFL Executive: Although this has been discussed in the past, serious consideration to this item must be given. The people who serve on the Executive are volunteers, comprising teachers with paid duties to perform at their schools. To ensure a more efficient league, these teachers should be considered for secondment, as this is truly a national duty they are performing.

Photo: Fyzabad Secondary midfielder Maurice Dick (centre) is surrounded by teammates [from left] Tyrese Reefer, Sharkeel Louison, Shamor Mahabir and Aaron Jordan during SSFL action against Trinity College East on 20 September at Trincity.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)
The SSFL may take the following steps:

1. The formulation of an independent body to scrutinise documents: The SSFL may consider sourcing past administrators and members to conduct a thorough investigation of eligibility. Coupled with the Ministry’s new procedures, this will improve detection of issues in a timely manner and may deter anyone from attempting to deceive.

2. Proposal of harsher penalties for infringement of rules: The unwanted media frenzy and fallout from the 2017 season must not happen again. Harsher penalties will force schools to be more thorough to avoid drastic consequences.

3. Improvement of the online registration process: The system will have to be updated to include identifying suspicious documents. This will require the input of the Ministry of Education and discussions should begin at the earliest possible time.

The TTFA, as the governing body, should take the following steps:

1. Provide Student Info to the League: Even though FIFA does not recognise schools but clubs, the TTFA has leeway in how it handles matters under its remit. Many students play in TTFA-sanctioned leagues and they should be recognised as such. A list should be provided to the SSFL to place on their website, so schools can be cognisant of the students requiring eligibility.

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College midfielder Kierron Mason in action against Fatima College during SSFL action at Mucurapo Road on 30 September 2017.
(Courtesy Annalisa Caruth/Wired868)

2. Provide administrative courses: The TTFA has done a fantastic job in training coaches for the SSFL and should be congratulated. Perhaps the local football body should consider sending SSFL administrators on FIFA courses to improve their ability to run the league.

Does it sound more complicated, time-consuming and costly in 2018? Football is still a simple game but when we find ways to complicate the league, the fall-out will always be what we have seen!

It takes effort to recalculate the table every time an infringement is punished. It takes effort to conduct disciplinary meetings, appeals, check documents and meet to decide on sanctions. The simplest thing to do is the right thing.

As San Juan North Secondary showed last year, the right thing may not guarantee you natural justice but it will preserve your reputation and people will be willing to fight for you.

For 2018, don’t be an idiot!

Photo: A St Anthony’s College defender (centre) tries in vain to clear an effort by Presentation College attacker Jaiye Sheppard (left) but the ball has already crossed the goalline during SSFL action at Westmoorings on 25 October 2017.
Looking on (right) is St Anthony’s goalkeeper Oba Augustin.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

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37 comments

  1. Where does a 17 year old very talented football who “has no subjects” get to show his talent in a sport that pays well to talented players?

  2. Is anyone talking about how they exploit young black footballers in this whole pappyshow?

  3. Dexter Cyrus, you are quite correct. The bench is for players and technical staff. In my 18 months with the National team back in 2006, I never sat on the bench. The role of the Manager is to ensure that all matters OFF the field are effectively managed to ensure the comfort and peace of mind of the players and staff. Football matters are for the coaches, technical staff and players to deliver the results. Does the coach run the Principal’s office?

  4. They don’t hv to go through all of that. Just make sure the final responsibility and accountability lies with one, or two people. They would make sure everything is done above board. I suggest the school principal. He/she wont want to lose their job, so penalty could include, but not be limited to termination. Hope it’s not easier said than done.

  5. Years pon years those things happening they happened to get caught

  6. Let them continue with their madness, my police canine dog unit will continue snifing all of them out, it seems that they haven’t got the message as yet and thanks to Mr. Live Wire with the exposing football stories eh. the corruption is being cleaned up even in the football/sports arena eh. Them really good yes.

  7. Adding more rules and regulations will not change anything ,the existing rules are sufficient .
    People who want to cheat will try to do so regardless of any new rules and regulations .
    The situation does not need to be over complicated and cumbersome.
    The rules of operations says a student cannot be called a player until the League approves his or her registration.
    It’s that simple .
    The criteria for registration already exist and most of the other Schools ,some in similar situations with transfer and repeat students followed the rules.
    When well supported schools get caught cheating then we have all t noise from those who would want to rationalize the situation .
    I say again it is not the SSFL that was caught out ,in fact they treated with the problem , those who have the power must now deal with the perpetrators.

  8. Ah hope that investigations starts with respect to all the other schools that this madness in the past and take away their trophies eh the same like when Marion Jones and some of the other American athletes who won plenty trophies and millions and then was striped when it was revealed that they used steriods and other drugs to inhance their abilities to run faster to win plenty races steeuuppss. Them really good yes.

    • Mango your police really working fast yes

    • While I am all for retroactive punishment for wrongdoers in this thing, we must admit that logistically it would be a nightmare to rescind trophies and readjudicate league standings, especially as relegation/promotion in this ‘premier’ era has significant ramifications for schools.

    • Oh gosh man Damian R. Scott , some people will hold their heads and bawl when they see the corrupted folks that was involved in all that madness in our sweet country eh just to win trophies while destroying some of the players future steeuusppss. Them really good yes.

    • George Scoreboard Mathison If uncle Burroughs the Fox did listen to me about 30 yrs ago eh when he sent for me when he realized that I had returned to our sweet country and joined the police service eh I told him that apart from the Fraud Squad we should have a football police unit operating right their in the Barracks eh while we were playing the football for the police eh so he said to me , Officer can we do that eh and my reply to him was that but uncle we run things eh, things don’t run we , you know how long now ah wudda lock up meh corrupted uncle Jack Warner who is the bestest con artist that I have ever come across and loves the corruption thing himself when he sold out our sweet country to my second sweetest country back in 1989 for plenty millons of monies for them to qualify for the 1990 World cup in Italy eh I bet you that this madness would never be happening today, but nobody listening to Mango nah. Them really good yes

  9. I hope that this widens into a full-blown examination and clarification of what student eligibility means and, hopefully, some universal criteria that applies through all academic and extracurricular pursuits for both boys and girls (don’t think the girls’ game is all hunky dory) . As I’ve said numerous times before there can’t be one rule for footballers and another for debaters.

  10. Well said Narada Wilson BOOM. Them really good yes.

  11. Respect to anyone who writes an article. However as an insider why weren’t these solutions offered before, as these things aren’t problems only today? The solutions given are time wasting, money wasting and will not guarantee any better outcome. Any basic job will ask for a original document what happened here was persons took a copy or never saw any documentation. Principals and schools are already to take responsibility and be punished why is it now to be different. I agree with Chabeth make a call to MOE who will send all the players info to ssfl who then can clear players. Stop with all the unnecessary extras

  12. And how come Shiva didn’t even turned up for the protest meeting either eh, what is really going on with this school football business in our sweet country eh Them really good yes.

  13. Can someone tell me what Mr Lakhan and Mr Jebodhsingh doing on d bench….
    The players said they does have dem feeling tense when dey on d bench….
    Y put d players in a place where they cant be relaxed and calm….what is the need to be on d bench….y do u want the forefront…y do u want the limelight…this is not your 15secs of fame…its about the Coach and the players…..

  14. I won’t be surprised especially when it is not only about the false documents eh Them really good yes.

  15. Can any one confirm the rumor that Fyzabad manager lakhan was taken into custody on Friday was just wondering

  16. I don’t understand why there needs to be scrutiny of documents.
    This is a school league sanctioned by the ministry.
    The league simply has to provide a list of the form five repeaters and new form six students along with their exam registration numbers and ask the ministry to provide their results.
    Nobody needs to sit and scrutinize a document as if they are somehow trained in fraudulent document detection.

  17. Well I fine that anyone in the future should be taken infront of the magistrate and then plenty jail time with a huge fine if they want to bounce their heads and continue with their corruption in the school league steeuuppss. Them really good yes.