The ‘Shiva ruling’: SSFL changes rule for students in club competitions; Elie takes over at Trinity Moka

Gems at Lajoya

The Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) has amended its ruling on players involved in club competitions—in a move meant to avoid a repeat of the Shiva Boys’ Hindu College fiasco which took place in 2017.

Shiva Boys, who won the 2016 Premier Division title, were relegated from the SSFL last season after utility player Kierron Mason and left-back Matthew Beal were discovered to have represented club teams after the cut-off date of 31 August.

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College midfielder Kierron Mason (centre) dances around Carapichaima East midfielder Kirk Torres (left) during the Coca-Cola National Intercol semifinals at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 30 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Mason, a former National Under-20 player, represented the Marabella Family Crisis Centre in the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) on 2 September while Beal turned out for Siparia Angels in the Southern Football Association (SFA) competition on the same day.

And, although neither player represented their clubs again that season, the late identification of the rule violation meant Shiva Boys were docked points for 10 of their 14 league games—and subsequently plunged from title hopefuls to table proppers.

The situation will not be repeated since, at Saturday’s AGM, the SSFL agreed to give players a clean slate whenever they play their first school match.

“What we have done is,” SSFL president William Wallace told Wired868, “instead of having the cut-off date of 31 August, once the student plays his first game in the SSFL, his registration [with any other competition] would be nullified.

“So, instead of going with the cut-off date, we decided that, if a student decides late to come in to the schools league, we are not going to stop that student.”

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College defender Matthew Beal (left) prepares to beat Presentation College (San F’do) goalkeeper Jabari Gray during Intercol South Zone semifinals action on 17 November 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

The SSFL ruling amends Article 16 (4) (a) of its Constitution which stated that: “A player, who having been registered and/or is playing with the TTFA or with another League or Association affiliated to the TTFA after 31st August of the current year, shall not be eligible to be registered as a player for their school unless they meet the criteria of the Credentials Committee.”

The implementation of Article 16 last season led to one of the most controversial episodes in the history of the Premier Division, as Shiva Boys were relegated after an inadvertent technicality.

Neither Mason nor Beal played in any external competition during the season and both would have been cleared to play in the SSFL if the school had applied promptly for their clearance. However, Shiva Boys Principal Dexter Sakal and team manager Sheldon Maharaj missed it and, when the complaint about the players came in, they were forced to pay the ultimate price.

For 2018, schools can breathe a bit easier on that score. Further, the SSFL’s amendment means that students who might have been discovered late by their school coaches or transferred in will no longer be ineligible merely because they represented their clubs after 31 August.

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College captain Judah Garcia (centre) collects the Coca-Cola South Zone Intercol trophy from SSFL president William Wallace (right) after defeating Naparima College 2-0 at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 23 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Wallace explained that, even if a student played in a TTFA-affiliated competition for all of September and October, he will still be able to play in the SSFL—on condition that he not represent his club for the remainder of the season.

Should the player return to represent his club, he will be deemed ineligible to play any more SSFL games that season. And, if he does anyway, the school will be docked points for any SSFL matches in which the player features after that point.

In other SSFL news, former Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-17 coach and TTFA FA Trophy winner Ken Elie has rejoined the schoolboys league after a six-year hiatus.

Elie, a Defence Force Warrant Officer Class 1, has already started work at Trinity College Moka, where he succeeds former head coach Marlon Minguel. Minguel, who led Moka to the North Zone Intercol title in 2016, was fired earlier this year.

The new coach hopes to build on Minguel’s solid work and is aiming for a top three finish for the school which barely avoided relegation last year.

Photo: Trinity College Moka forward Kesean St Rose (right) and QRC defender Rawle Felix chase the ball during Coca-Cola North Zone quarterfinal action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 13 November 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“I realise there is some work to do but I am not afraid to work and I will give it my best,” said Elie, whose last school job was at Belmont Secondary in 2012. “I told them I envisioned a spot in the top three and that is what we are aiming for. […] I think it is achievable, given their last two years.

“I did my report in April and I indicated to the principal [Carl Tang] and manager [Shawn Lindsay] that what they have going for them is the guys are very disciplined. I can do wonders with a team like that and with that kind of personality.”

Presentation College (San Fernando) are the current SSFL Premier Division champions while Shiva Boys won last season’s Coca-Cola National Intercol title.

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at 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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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    Lasana How come is this pic you use for this story? You are not playing fair !

  2. The commercialisation of the SSFL may have led to the move to have the better perceived quality player for that league. The situation created is a “One and ‘un-done.” Un-done meaning the underdevelopment of the other players that would have had the opportunity to get spots. Play one game and you the player get to be sent back to a School League. Is this development? Is this the way forward for the sport to grow? Leagues can be scheduled to have more game time. It seems as though that game time is being manipulated for ‘star players’ to monopolise the opportunities and showcase thier talent.

    Maybe I am wrong today but hopeful National Atheletes dont leave Pro League Teams and end up in SSFL tomorrow. TTFA ought to step in.

  3. This guy is not from Braveheart?

  4. Play and more play is what develops a player. The actual playing of the game in real time football scenarios. Training may refine technique and tactics, but the more they play the better. The reason for the superior quality of players of the past in our country is that before the advent of all this technology all they did was find a field an play everyday, long and hard, growing in skill and strength. Nowadays players play less and train more, they look great in the controlled atmosphere of a training session but throw them in a game situation where anything can happen and their training standard significantly drops. I had a discussion last month with Reading FC youth development coach Jaime Harris and he says they allow players to play at least 5 games a week, games for the club and school teams because this improves their overall growth. The more you play the better you play.

    • At Atletico Madrid, the rule is one game for every four sessions. The standard in Spanish youth teams is one game per a week. I think Lionel Messi did okay with that.
      I don’t know what Harris does at Reading. You said yourself that training refines techniques and tactics. So there you go.
      Bertille St Clair would probably be insulted if you’re suggesting that Dwight Yorke became the player he was by just playing football all the time as a youngster.
      Yorke was a national youth player from about the age of 9. Can you imagine how many training sessions he had?

    • In voicing my opinion on the matter I must say we all know that different footballing institutions have different philosophies, the science behind it is ongoing and nothing is cast in stone. Some believe in old time methods and some in modern day technology. The fact is nothing is finite and every player will react differently to different methods.

    • Reading just play games all week? That so Simon Teixeira? More games than training sessions? Sounds odd to me for any sport.

    • Never said Reading play more games than train so please don’t misquote me. I said their players are allowed to play more games which include games with their schools as well.

    • Stefan Theophilus you said: “Reading FC youth development coach Jaime Harris and he says they allow players to play at least 5 games a week…”
      So how often does Reading train then?

    • Lol you are aware aware you can have an afternoon training session and still play at night right. You probably interpret training as only something rigorous. As you already know you can have a tactical hour long session at 2:30pm and play a game at 8:00pm comfortably. Every coach may not do it but it can be done.

    • Stefan we are talking about school children and I know the England education system does not fool around in the way ours does. So there are no double sessions during the school term.
      So you tell me on average how often Reading trains per week and how often they play at the youth levels.

    • The example I gave from Atletico is because I called a youth coach who spent a week at the Atletico academy just last month.
      I can call more coaches with experience in other developed football nations including England. Five games a week is something I’ve never heard of.
      Like I said, I’m curious to know how many training sessions the player gets in a scenario like that.

    • LA Galaxy trains everyday except whrn they have game…they just decide what type of training they do on the specific days

    • Timothy you’re talking about their youth team right? How many games a week does their youth team have and how many training sessions?

    • I guess Carlos Lee may be able to shed some light on youth training week

    • Carlos Lee, we are paging you. In fact Ian R Briggs is a good man for this too. Read this thread and chime in nah.
      Terence William Fenwick?

    • Lasana this is awesome and I appreciate your passion. I myself would thoroughly enjoy reading and hopefully learning in this thread. Excellent professionalism.

    • It’s interesting that you would make that statement Stefan Theophilus because there are “football people” who believe that T&T Football should not be discussed and/or criticized on ‘wired’.

    • Great thread, 3-5 days training a week is ideal. Providing the standard of coaching is good and the Kids are learning they will not get bored and the standard of play will increase.
      Recognize that it takes multiple skill sets and physical attributes to compile a competent team, this opens the door to so many more kids with ambitions to be a footballer.
      Under Warner and his 30 years plus of control of regional football, individuals were trusted to deliver youth development programs and ensure a sustainable long term planning to deliver for the kids? Warner was let down by incompetent coaches with no clue how to sustain anything other than their own income.

      Whilst at Jabloteh and Central, my players received 2 sessions a day pre-season training incorporating physical and technical work. Within the actual season the development process continued and several tactic, motivation and individual programs were implemented to motivate and improve individuals development team performance.

      Game days were always double sessions, reminder session in the morning leading into the game in the evening.
      Reminder session – team play, set plays, individual responsibility and collective duties of the team. This to ensure players, substitutes and staff were all on the same page.

    • Terence William Fenwick thanks. So for kids, you’d say three days training and how many games per week or per month are necessary for their development?

    • Planning is the name of the game, without proper planning and projected milestones T&T football will continue to let down the youngsters.

    • U10 3 sessions a week and games every other weekend, U16, 3-5 sessions and 1 game a week over 9 months of the year.

    • Thanks Terry. That sounds similar to the standard I’ve heard about in developed football nations.

    • Lasana – MLS academy teams typically train a couple times per week and play one game on weekends. Players typically travel 1 to 1.5 hrs to get to practice and even further for matches. Most premier league teams (a level below MLS academy) also train a couple times per week and do one game on weekends. They also do 2-3 tournaments per year where they my play 4-5 games over 2-3 days. High school and College/University teams train daily and play 1-2 games per week. They also travel significant distances (by bus and plane) to play games. Brent should also be able to add his thoughts on this.

    • Lasana Liburd So because Terry say it is “standards” but when I say it yuh on my case like ah luggage tag??

    • Sheldon Terry said one game per week. You want me to copy and paste what you wrote to compare or wot? Lol.

    • I believe I said something like 3 training sessions per week and 2 games. Terry said three to FIVE training sessions per week and one game!!

    • Sheldon first you were saying they should play as much as possible for club and school and I objected. After a lot of back and forth, you agreed to three training sessions and two games. But go back and read my response to that.
      What I said was did it really make sense to then play one of those two games for school and another for club? Because the SSFL plays two games a week.
      So you’re saying the player should skip half his school games to represent his school. I didn’t object to your formula. Go back and read yourself.

    • Lasana Liburd No dude. In my case the club games were on the weekend and didn’t clash with school football. It was approximately 2 full sessions with the school team during the week with a game in there somewhere and a club game on Sunday after training on Saturday. That was the general template. Throw in an extra training session from either party as required (not every week) and the odd extra game due to scheduling or whatever. This meant that the schedule was 3 training sessions per week with 2 games. Sometimes it might be a bit more sometimes a bit less but this was effectively what happened. I passed everything at school, never had a serious injury (apart from a fractured nose that stills “cracks” today) and I went on to UWI to get an Engineering degree…as did the vast majority of my teammates (i.e. they did well in exams and went on to do well). So it CAN work with the right system in place. (where do you find the time to do this???)

    • Sheldon I am saying the SSFL season is two games a week. Now your first objection to the rule was that it limited the development of the players in terms of knowledge and fitness.
      So since you turned around to say two games are good, then what’s your problem?
      (Ah making time for yuh! ?)

    • Lasana Liburd No fadder! My objection was to not allowing the kids to play both club AND school leagues. You MUST be a lawyer!?

    • Sheldon the SSFL has two games a week. You said two games good. Terry said two games good.
      So how are they going play for Club and school if their school plays twice?
      Break it down for me yes. You giving me a Faris. Lol.

    • Lasana Liburd Oh OK…Thanks for clarifying that. I STILL think they can pull it off at that age! So there!?

    • ?? Ok hoss. You going down fighting. Lol

    • sheldon, what do I know, I’m sticking with you mate

    • In all seriousness I do not recall having to play a consistent 2 games per week. Now I played in the Championship division and that year and we qualified to move up (Hillview) by placing 2nd or something. I also played for a team in the Eddie Hart League at the same time. I could be wrong, but I sincerely do not recall the 2 day a week school games PLUS club games running into 3-4 games per week.
      Regardless of what madness I might have done in my day, I honestly would not want to see my son playing 3 games a week on any consistent basis.
      Full disclosure…When I finished that season at Hillview, I moved to south and made the Pleasantville full Intercol team immediately (goalkeeper) but I was (also immediately) banned from all football from home out of fears for the potential impact on my studies.
      I guess I’m saying that it deserves a lot of careful thought and planning so as not to overwork the young men physically and/or mentally.
      So there Lasana!!…Take win!!?

  5. All i say we continue to PRAY n let God have his way ent that is what we did last season Carol John so doh beat up at all

  6. Carol John, Antonia Christchild Johnson, Ben Yarashalam someone help me

  7. Tell him go and do the butterfly dance.

  8. Club football sanctioned by the zones and TTFA is different from minor league football

  9. At what point will actual schooling take place?

    Remember after football there is life, all it takes is one spill, fall or injury..and you would be termed “once was, once played”..

    There must be a balance, is there any local club that will support any extremely talent through, if he neglects his schooling?

    • It is possible to play three games a week and get your schooling down ? This is a lame convenient arguement. Why not then put in real academic requirements instead of just throwing out this crap? Do the footballers generally do well in school ? This is because Shiva Boys was breaking a barrier. …

    • This rule would have helped Shiva Boys not hurt them.

    • Michael Blair Blenman your sights are set on football, and that only. The goal is for a well rounded individual, where are the “great footballers” who did that alone? They like Clauzel, Dwarika etc, after football now playing catch-up… Secure the players future by putting in place systems and other things they will benefit, not for football egotistical “Coaches” to get their fill and when the next talent(s) come along, they are forgotten.

      How many talented Semi Pro, Pro or former Secondary Schools stars we continually see begging bread? For all they were seen as was “football talent”, and not as complete individuals?

  10. Could this therefore mean that entire teams of players from the Super League, TT Pro League, TT Youth Pro League, National Team can be given the opportunity to score and win points for the respective outfits and then go back into schools football to return to these leagues again each year?

  11. Someone help me because I cannot work out the value of this rule. Why is it so important for school boys not to play for their Club ? Which most times would be the neighbourhood team that developed them. Seems like a nuusance rule to me. ..someone enlighten me please. Why cant a school boy play a minor league game on Tuesday and a school game on Friday ? Is that not better for the big picture ? Development of players for Trinidad Football? Russell Latapy played in nearly every Savannah in Trinidad..

    • For development purposes, coaches can find it annoying when player has two masters.
      Then there is wear and tear as school teams play twice a week and train in between. Those extra games that school trainer doesn’t cater for can increase risk of injury.
      And then there is the need for time for homework.

    • Grew up around Aranguez Savannah. A number of good school players from the past were playing minor league long before Intercol. You sure this rule is not to favor certain town schools as the country/outta town boys usually are the ones that learn playing minor league ? Which usually gives them a lot more exposure than the soccer clinics? I cant see how banning young players from minor league football can help them. ..this seems like a ruling with alterior motives…

    • Lasana Liburd tell me a player that developed because of school football. Russell Latapy ? Dwight Yorke ? Players get recognised in school teams but school football does not contribute the majority of their football education in Trinidad

    • The rule stopping students from playing for other teams once the season started actually existed for decades. And they have now relaxed it slightly.

    • This rule was in place when Dwight Yorke was in school.

    • Lasana Liburd i know it existed. ..but like most things that make no sense. .it was used conveniently

    • This is a nonsense rule. I played for my school as well as a clu side and there was o ly benefit to be had from the two approaches both in terms of knowledge as well as fitness.

    • Sheldon Sutherland but we know this. .all of the good players in the country play club football and school football

    • Michael Blair Blenman you my friend understand the politics of SSFL foottball

    • Players do most of their developing in training. Not on match day.
      A child who plays four or five games per week will not be better than a child who plays twice and trains three or four times.

    • In the 60’s and before,Colleges like St.Mary’s,QRC,and St.Benedict’s used to play in club leagues against clubs with big men.The College League used to pull crowds back then.Now,if you have 500,that is a big crowd.

      • Earl Best

        Those two colleges played in the Senior Division of the POSFL up to the mid-60’s. The Colleges League (as it was then called) was launched in 1965 and that was when that stopped. I don’t know if St Benedict’s were also playing in the SSFL or the SSFA but that may well be the case. So it was a case indeed of boys versus men but the schoolboys gave a good account of themselves.

        Not sure how today’s all-schoolboys teams would fare against grown men but I am certain that the level of “grown men” football is nowhere near the level produced back then despite vast improvements in playing equipment and facilities. I doubt the match-up would entice many more people back to watch…

    • We are developing some weak little sissies.

    • Dominic in those days the schoolboys were not playing for the clubs during the school season. Because the clubs and schools were in the same league in those days.

    • Lasana Liburd My experience was an extra 2 club training sessions a week and an extra game on the weekend in addition to school team training. My conditioning and knowledge of the game benefit immensely.

    • Sheldon, Lionel Messi, Harry Kane, etc are playing two games per week. FIFA’s medical regulations frowns on even allowing adults to play more than games per week. That is why you can only have two games in a FIFA match window.
      So how many games and training sessions per week do you think is healthy for a school boy?

    • Lasana Liburd As much as he can handle and recuperate from. At that age (14-18) he’s prime for that kind of regime given the average recuperative capacity of someone that age. The sessions have to be sensibly designed and timed and the child’s nutrition and recuperation monitored.

    • There are some very capable and qualified school coaches right now who are already giving the students as much as they can handle.
      So if that student then goes on the decide and does extra, you can guess the risk.
      I am interested to know how many training sessions per week and how many games days you think a student should have though.

    • Train three days if you are playing two games a week

    • Come on kids that age want to play football why don’t the powers that be come together and find a way to keep these youths active after their school football career is over going down this path is only destroying our future in the game because after college ball majority of these young men & women just fall away many of these schools just care about winning a title and when these kids are no longer eligible to play no one cares

    • Lasana Liburd i hope that one day you become the head of football in our beloved country and help bring about the right mindset that is needed to take our game beyond

    • Well said Michael Blair Blenman this does seem to have motives behind it

    • Lasana Liburd You’re looking at 3-4 training sessions a week between club and school. At that age the club sessions should only be one day a week (maybe 2 depending on the circumstances). Both coaches should be aware of what the other is doing. The priority will likely be the school competition and the club couch will usually understand that and adjust training intensity accordingly.

    • Sheldon that leaves two match days at best. So who gets them? One for the club and for the school? See the problem?
      Remember they already had the Youth Pro League and/or Republic Bank National Youth League. The better players would have played in the Super League or Pro League from June to early September. That’s another three months.
      That’s about eight months of football already. That’s more than enough. People forget that players like Dwight Yorke actually had an off season where they would play cricket for their school and what not. Eight months for a teenaged footballer means their season is twice as long as our Pro League players. Lol.

    • Lasana Liburd I know many people who did what I highlighted to you and they were just fine….some of them had national team call ups as well. As a youth you didn’t care…you just wanted to play football.

    • Sheldon I know plenty talented teenagers who didn’t have a proper foundation built and never advanced to make it as adult players too.

    • Sheldon Sutherland i know many good players that did. It. ..nearly the whole Strike Squad. …list down the best players last 20 years….

    • Michael you know that Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy were playing minor league during the SSFL season? You gonna prove that?

    • Lasana Liburd i have also seen teams with a couple national players lose in minor league…its about exposure…a lot of excellent players do not pursue football as a living. ..imagine men come Aranguez and bounce up NACO or Survival and get licks. ..then yuh have to pay to see a couple of them play for Trinidad the next week…

    • Michael I don’t believe a word of that. Since we are talking about dozens or hundreds of players over decades, it should be be hard for you to give me just five. Or even two.
      Tell me which national player was playing in minor league during school season. I’d love to hear details.

    • Lasana Liburd i know that they played minor league and school football did not make them into the product that they are. …school football is a show..thats all..

    • Lasana Liburd also. …the best young player in a village does not have to train. the time you are 15 or 16. show up and play. .and the older guys are glad because they have been teaching you …

    • We like to ban and restrict and apply discipline to our detriment . .there is no good reason other than maintaining the status quo of school football. Thats why we also banned our best players during the last World Cup campaign…you right to refer to it as the Shiva Rule…

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