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Manning High vs Clarendon College in the 2019 ISSA Schoolboy Football Tournament

A decision whether schoolboys football will be played later this year is expected soon after the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Sports arrives at a decision.

The government will have the final say in the restart after months of consultation with stake-holders by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) starting from May, president Keith Wellington said in a virtual meeting held recently.

The virtual meeting was held in conjunction with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) who were represented by a number of their top executives led by president Michael Ricketts, the Ministry of Sports, represented by Allie McNab who stood in for the minister who was absent as well as representatives from the health sector. Both Wellington and daCosta Cup chairman Linvern Wright emphasised that safety of the players would be the main objective in the decision-making process.

The meeting that included medical professionals, representatives of the government and coaches was the latest in the series of consultations that the body has been taking said the ultimate decision whether the players would take part would have to come from their parents.

“ISSA will not be forcing anyone to play football. We will provide an opportunity, if and when it is safe to do so, but we will also ensure that we will be indemnified by the decisions that will be taken by parents to allow their children to play,” Wellington said adding that would also be part of protocols that will be developed.

Wellington said the imbalance between their member schools was obvious and they were taking steps to ensure that no one would be disadvantaged by any decisions that were made.

“Where we are at ISSA as it relates to the start (of all competitions) we would have already taken a decision that will not start our competitions in September as we normally do, we normally start the very first weekend of school and we have already taken the decision that we will have no competitions in September. What we have been trying to do is to liaise with our various stakeholders to get information as to how we can function during the period and this is a part of that process, we are not in any undue haste, we want to make sure that we understand that the priority is going to be the health and safety of the students and the communities in general.”

Livern Wright Principal of Rusea's High“We understand that there may also be some fallout in terms of which schools are going to be able to compete under the conditions that would be safe to do so and it is a discussion that is ongoing with us as principals. We are aware of the differences in capabilities of our schools and we want to ensure that each student will get a fair opportunity under the circumstances so there are things that we may have to change from how we normally function but all of those will be informed by what we learn as we go along.”

Wright said they had been doing a lot “In relation to consulting to ensure that we have it right whether we go forward or not. Consultation has been our watchword and ever since May we have been talking informally and it evolved into more formal talks in recent times.”

ISSA, Wright said had been careful to consult before taking any decision, “this is how we have decided that we are going to go forward and look at different meetings as to how we go on in order to ensure that we have the kind of atmosphere and kinds of planning necessary.”

Wright said, “We know that we would have to establish protocols in regards to training, in relation to games, in relation to medical checks, in relation to interaction, in relation to celebrations, in relation to many many things that would have been the norm prior to now, so we know that those would have to be established to ensure that teams and parents and everyone knows what it is that we are about and how we are going to get it done to ensure the safety especially of the children.”

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