The decision to hold a meeting with the purpose of examining the occurrences—negative and positive—in the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), should have been done many years ago, especially when dates of eligibility in the school system had changed. That meeting was held recently and while I am not aware of the decisions taken following the information shared by those present, I am hopeful that certain changes will be made.
Firstly, the responsibility of adhering to the rules in schools’ football should be fully approved by the Ministries of Education, and Sport and Youth Affairs.
Maybe the most essential input should come from the parents of the students whose inclusion in communication with the stakeholders should be clear in the minds of the parents themselves.
If we take a close look at the overall system in the interest of the educational and athletic progress of the footballers, I have no doubt that the areas of concern will be dealt with and the confusion which tends to show up from time to time can be reduced drastically.
For instance, the age groups which are stipulated by the league executives need to be reviewed in terms of the dangers of students under the age of 16 years, playing with and against those between the ages of 17 and 20 years old.
This may not appear significant, but I have heard numerous lectures from FIFA qualified sports’ doctors, which imply that the bone strength and muscle development of the younger age group tend to be exposed to injuries more regularly than normal, to the detriment of the younger age group. Parents then should be watchful, simply because the SSFL does not have the qualified personnel to offer suggestions in this regard.
Secondly, observing the educational competence of the players must be a task for the principal and teaching staff, to ensure that there is sufficient interest and application in the classroom. One must complement the other in order to produce a happy balance for the future of our children.
Unfortunately, there is clear emphasis placed on winning the championships—even at the expense of the school work of the students—and more so the desire to negotiate school transfers in order to strengthen teams.
They go as far as allowing the outstanding players to join the ranks of professionalism in order to facilitate a poorly run Pro league with its youth league, which they sell to the schools as the first step into national youth competition. These major decisions should be made with the full responsibility of the Ministry of Education.
Also, the absence of security at SSFL matches must be addressed. The reason is obvious, as the results of the lack of proper security when tempers flare on and off the field speak for themselves.
Can I humbly suggest to parents, teachers and the Ministry to demonstrate their desire to allow the sport to develop organisationally and free from unnecessary concerns, both physically and educationally.