Friday 21 September, 2018

2018 schoolboy football season kicks off today

Players display kits for schools at the launch of the 2018 schoolboy football season at the Terra Nova hotel in St Andrew on August 22. Digicel will invest $75 million over three years as title sponsors for the urban area Manning Cup and Walker Cup knockout competitions. Wisynco announced a sponsorship package of close to $100 million for the rural area daCosta Cup and Ben Francis knockout competitions. (Photo: Marlon Reid).

Players display kits for schools at the launch of the 2018 schoolboy football season at the Terra Nova hotel in St Andrew on August 22. Digicel will invest $75 million over three years as title sponsors for the urban area Manning Cup and Walker Cup knockout competitions. Wisynco announced a sponsorship package of close to $100 million for the rural area daCosta Cup and Ben Francis knockout competitions. (Photo: Marlon Reid).

The highly anticipated 2018 schoolboy football season gets under way on Saturday and will last for three months.

As usual the season starts with the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup and for the first time both competitions will operate under separate sponsorship.

Digicel, in its second stint as title sponsors, will invest $75 million over three years in the urban area Manning Cup and Walker Cup knockout competitions. Wisynco, through its brand WATA, announced a sponsorship package of close to $100 million in the rural area daCosta Cup and Ben Francis knockout competitions.

The opening day features seven Manning Cup matches across three groups and 33 daCosta Cup fixtures across 10 groups.

Players from Jamaica College taking part in a recent training session.

The opening ceremony will be held at the Montego Bay Sports Complex where five-time defending Manning Cup champions Jamaica College (JC) and daCosta Cup champions Rusea's High will be in action.

JC will start the Manning Cup defence against Hydel High at 3:30 pm; while Rusea's High will begin against Green Island at 6:00 pm.

The format of the Manning Cup competition, which was changed in 2017, remained the same.

Members of KC squad taking part in a recent training session.

The top two teams in each of the seven preliminary round groups, along with the overall two best third-placed teams will advance to the second round.

Teams will be seeded, by using points allotted before the start of the season based on previous years’ results as well as points gained throughout the preliminary round.

The points system will have JC, as champions, starting the competition with five points, second-placed St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) with four, third-place Holy Trinity High (three) and fourth-place Kingston College (KC) with two.

Members of Holy Trinity High football squad at a recent training session.

Starting with one point each will be last year’s other quarterfinalists St George’s College, Calabar High, Bridgeport and St Catherine High.

During the preliminary rounds , each win will value one point. In addition, group winners will get six points and runners-up five, while the best third-placed teams will get three points.

Based on the accumulation of points entering the second round, the top ranked team will play against the 16th ranked team and the second ranked team against the 15th ranked team and so on.

The winners of these match-ups will be placed in two groups in the quarterfinals.

In the daCosta Cup, the format will also be the same as last year, with the top two teams of each of the 15 groups along with the two best third-placed teams advancing to the second round.

And just like the Manning Cup, the daCosta Cup teams will be seeded in the second round, with home-and-away matches deciding the teams for the quarterfinals, which will consist of four zones with the winners advancing to the semifinals.

Among the favourites for the Digicel Manning Cup title will be JC, which despite losing the services of five consecutive times winning coach Miguel Coley, have an excellent programme.  Andrew Peart is the man at the helm now.

KC, which have retained 10 players from last year’s unit that won the Super Cup, finished second in the Walker Cup and was stopped in the semi-finals of the Manning Cup by STATHS, are also among the favourites. STATHS, St George’s College and Charlie Smith High are also expected to do well.

Vassell Reynolds, in his second year at Rusea's High, is looking to lead the school to back-to-back daCosta Cup title.  Cornwall College, St Elizabeth Technical High, Clarendon College, Glenmuir High and Dinthill High will be dangerous.

The 2018 season will see 130 teams competing for six prestigious trophies. In addition to the Manning Cup, daCosta Cup, Walker Cup knockout  and Ben Francis knockout,  the ISSA Champions Cup knockout, to be staged for the first time, and the Olivier Shield, will also be up for grabs.

But while the formats of the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup will remain the same, the Walker Cup knockout and Ben Francis knockout have both gone through major changes.

For the Ben Francis Cup, teams which finish third and fourth in the four respective daCosta Cup quarter finals groups will contest this competition, a major change compared to last season when only the top four daCosta Cup teams contest for the title.  All matches, which end in a draw at the end of regulation time will be decided by a penalty shoot out. There will be no extra time.

The Walker Cup competition will now comprise the eight losers of the Manning Cup Round of 16 home- and-away knockout;  a major change compared to former years when the seven preliminary round group winners and the best second place team earned the right to contest that competition.  All matches which end in a draw at the end of regulation time will be decided by a penalty shoot out. There will be no extra time.

The ISSA Champions Cup will feature the eight teams which won their second round Manning Cup two-way play-off games and the eight teams which finish as winners and runners-up in their respective daCosta Cup quarter finals groups. The competition will be played on a knockout basis.

Justin Morin, CEO of Digicel Jamaica, who announced his company's sponsorship during the launch of the 2018 season last month, said the telecommunications firm and entertainment provider is excited to be a major partner with ISSA.

"For me, it brings pure delight to announce the newly-renamed Digicel Manning Cup and Digicel Walker Cup competitions," said Morin.

"Supporting schoolboy football is very important to all of us at Digicel, because we see it as a major investment in the future of some of Jamaica’s most talented young athletes. And being the biggest event to open the national schools’ sports calendar means very soon we will again witness school rivalry at its best when the games get into motion in the next 17 days," he added.

William Mahfood, chairman of Wisynco Group, said his company is committed to sports in Jamaica.

"Wisynco's commitment to sports in Jamaica is unrivalled by any other beverage partner. The company's direct investment in football has exceeded over $60 million in the last four years, which until now has been the largest investment that the company had undertaken for any single sport," said Mahfood.

OPENING DAY MATCH SCHEDULE

DIGICEL MANNING CUP (All starting at 3:30 pm unless indicated)

GROUP C
Meadowbrook vs Charlie Smith
Jonathan Grant vs Norman Manley
Eltham vs Camperdown

GROUP D
Jamaica College vs Hydel at Montego Bay Sports Complex at 3:30 pm

GROUP G
Jose Marti vs Wolmer's
Waterford vs Holy Trinity
Edith Dalton vs Pembroke Hall

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WATA DACOSTA CUP (All starting at 3:30 pm unless indicated)

GROUP B
Rusea's vs Green Island at Montego Bay Sports Complex at 6:00 pm

GROUP D
Knockalva vs Little London
Mannings vs Belmont

GROUP H
Thompson Town vs Kellits
Lennon vs Edwin Allen

GROUP I
Iona vs Ocho Rios
Marcus Garvey vs Oracabessa
Brown's Town vs York Castle

GROUP J
Carron Hall s Brimmer Vale
Guy's Hill vs Tacky
St Mary Technical vs St Mary High

GROUP K
Tacius Golding vs Charlemont
Enid Bennett vs Dinthill
McGrath vs Ewarton

GROUP L
Horace Clarke vs Port Antonio
Titchfield vs Happy Grove
Fair Prospect vs Annotto Bay

GROUP M
Bellefield vs Glenmur
Garvey MaCeo vs Denbigh
Winston Jones vs Cross Keys

GROUP N
Vere vs Central
Old Harbour vs Porus
Kemps Hill vs Bustamante

GROUP O
Morant Bay vs Robert Lightbourne
Yallahs vs Paul Bogle
Seaforth vs St Thomas

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