A new season brings historic new dual title sponsors, $3.5m prize monies, and a change of formation for the Walker and Ben Francis Cups, as the long-awaited Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Football Competitions were launched on Wednesday, August 22,2018 at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew.

The season will kick off on Saturday, September 8, 2018, with defending All-island Champions Jamaica College (JC), tackling Hydel High and DaCosta Cup Champions, Rusea’s High taking on Green Island High, in an opening ceremony double header at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex, Montego Bay, St James.

Telecommunications giant, Digicel and manufacturing powerhouse, Wisynco Group, were officially announced as new title sponsors. Digicel which served as title sponsors from 2007 to 2012, is returning for a second stint as main sponsors, and has pumped in $25m a year amounting to $75m over three years, into the corporate area Manning Cup and Walker Cup competitions.

{loadmodule mod_custom,Google inside article ad code} Wisynco, through its brands Wata and Freshhh, will sponsor the rural area DaCosta Cup and Ben Francis knockout competitions. They announced a $31.5 million annual deal, over three years, amounting to $168m. Digicel Jamaica’s CEO Justin Morin, was delighted to be a major partner with ISSA for the staging of the 2018 schoolboy football season.

“For me, it brings pure delight to announce the newly renamed Digicel Manning Cup and Digicel Walker Cup competitions. Supporting schoolboy football is very important to all of us at Digicel because we see it as an investment in the future of some of Jamaica’s most talented athletes,” said Morin.

“With the expansion of the rivalry between urban and rural schools in the newly renamed ISSA Champion Cup, the competition will no doubt continue to grow in strength, as one of the premier sporting events on the ISSA calendar. I would like to applaud ISSA for the excellent job they have done to raise the level of organization, competition and participation each year,” Morin pointed out.

SportsMax VP of Marketing Tanya Lee presenting their checque to Dr. Walton Small, President of ISSA

For the first time ever, every Digicel customer will be able to watch games live on SportsMax channel via our PlayGo streaming App and get match stats and other content from providers such as www.schoolboyfootball.com, LOOP and their social media pages.

Meanwhile, William Mahfood, chairman of the Wisynco Group, highlighted that they are just as excited to be renewing their sponsorship deal worth nearly $100m over three years, with ISSA. “This is the sixth year, through our various brands, that we have been involved in schoolboy football and this year, specifically, we will be the title sponsor of the DaCosta Cup,” said Mahfood. “The three years is just a small part of Wisynco’s commitment to the development of schools, schoolboys, athletics and education as a whole,” he added.

Dr. Walton Small, president of ISSA, said he has no doubt that this year’s competition will be one to remember for a long time to come. “So fasten the proverbial seatbelt and enjoy the excitement of the 2018 season,” said Dr. Small. “ISSA takes the opportunity to welcome our new sponsors, Digicel, SportsMax and Restaurants of Jamaica (KFC). We also welcome on board Main Event as our new branding and entertainment partner. A special welcome to Wisynco as a returning sponsor through their brands Wata, Freshhh and Powerade,” he added.

Associate sponsor, Restaurant of Jamaica’s (KFC) brand manager Andrei Roper, explained that they will be contributing $18 million and will pay $500 for every goal scored in the first round of the competition “which is going to be a big deal”.

“This is really a pleasure for the Restaurants of Jamaica family, particularly the KFC brand. It’s a bit of deja vu for us. I remember the KFC brand being in this very room some years ago in our involvement with schoolboy football alongside Digicel,” he pointed out. “It’s a bit of being back in the fold. It’s a bit of us trying to play a bigger role in the development of schoolboy football. “We see it as a platform for youth development and for the four that KFC we have being in Jamaica, we have dedicated youth development through sports,” said Roper.

SportsMax will be media partners and will broadcast selected matches live throughout the season; their deal is worth just over $46 million annually.

President and CEO of SportsMax, Oliver McIntosh, said they have been a driving force in sports across the Caribbean and they are proud to not only remain as broadcasters for the schoolboy football but now investors.

“We are doubling down on our investments to become a sponsor of schoolboy football to the tune of, over $46m to ISSA, on an annual basis.
That is a combination of our sponsorship and our broadcast and our production investment into schoolboy sports. We stand committed in the Caribbean,” McIntosh reiterated.

“There is no television entity in our region that can provide the kind of coverage and partnership that we have and we will deliver Jamaican schoolboy football across multiple countries, in multiple regions and multiple platforms, the best that schoolboy has to offer,” said McIntosh.

There was apprehension in certain quarters as it was announced that teams that were knocked out of their respective Manning and DaCosta Cup competitions early would contest the traditional Walker and Ben Francis Cups. Hence defending Walker Cup champions JC and defending Ben Francis champion Clarendon College might not get a chance to defend their titles if they are to advance, as expected, far into the Manning and DaCosta Cup Competitions.

The Ben Francis knockout will be contested by the third and fourth placed teams in the quarterfinal round of the DaCosta Cup Competition, while the Walker Cup Competition will see the eight losing teams that are knocked out of the second round of the Manning Cup Championship, playing for the trophy.

Meanwhile the rich Super Cup has been replaced by the Champion Cup, to be contested by the top 16 teams from both the Manning and DaCosta Cup Competitions. Schools will have the opportunity to collect prize monies totaling $3.5m dollars across all competitions. There will be 42 Manning Cup teams and 88 schools will vie for the DaCosta Cup crown.