The two year wait for the return of schoolboys football is almost over as the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) announced they had been give permission by the government to resume the league.

“The Inter-secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) is pleased to announce that the Government of Jamaica has approved its application for the staging of schoolboy football this season,” a release trumpeted, “The Organizing Committee of ISSA is now busy finalizing arrangements to commence the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup on Friday, November 12 or Saturday, November 13.”

The competition was last played in 2019 and was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result of the proposed late start, the competition will run into the new year.

“For the first time in recent memory, the season will be divided into two segments with the Preliminary Rounds and Quarter Finals slated to be completed before the Christmas Break and the Knock Out stages when school resumes in January,” ISSA also stated.

It is expected that just over 90 schools could take part in the competition, 53 in the daCosta Cup and at least 37 in the Manning Cup and there could be different first round groups from the traditional ones. It is expected that the daCosta Cup could see just eight zones with schools playing in geographical groups in the first round to avoid too much travelling.

Also games will be played at a restricted number of venues as there will not be home and away as was the norm with double and triple headers being played on each game day.

Meanwhile as part of the proposal to the government, there will be strict new rules including no spectators at last for the fist round, “It is mandatory that all players and officials wishing to participate take at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before the start of the competition. Failure to comply automatically renders the individual ineligible,” ISSA stated.

“Participating schools have also been granted approval to commence regular training activities along with JOINT TRAINING SESSIONS amongst schools to facilitate preseason preparation, subject to the dictates of the Disaster Risk Management Act and final approval for such sessions by ISSA,’ they also said, adding “ISSA will utilise the three weeks preceding the start of the competitions to fine tune all execution plans with its various stakeholders, including the relevant Government Agencies.”