Former champions Camperdown High and Tivoli Gardens High schools have been unceremoniously axed from the quarter-finals of the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup football competition for using ineligible players.
The news came via a release from organizers ISSA on Tuesday.
“Kindly note that games played by both Camperdown High and Tivoli Gardens High have been ruled null and void as both schools were deemed to have used ineligible players throughout the competition,” the release noted.
Information circulating is that both schools used players who had enrolled in an Academy then rejoined the affected schools. However, Camperdown High School’s head coach Donavon Lofters was not amused, as he called for more vigilance from ISSA’s clearinghouse which granted identification to his player to participate in the competition.
“He (player) attended Camperdown from 2016, I think, and he played Pepsi, he played Colts for us and his mother decided to take him from school and tried to turn him into a professional footballer, hence he went to an Academy, MRC.
“It didn’t work out so she took him back to Camperdown, so based on that what we knew of the rule is the last school he attended is Camperdown High School because MRC is no school, so based on that we got IDs from ISSA and we moved on.”
Lofters added: “Only to hear after we played seven unbeaten matches and now favourites, now playing a good brand of football after all this hard work that we are cheaters and all I can say for Camperdown High School, they don’t try to go around any system. I’ve been there for seven years so if I had any inclination that rules were broken I would have dealt with it,” the coach told a YouTube channel yesterday.
As a result of the disqualification of both schools, Excelsior High and St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) have been promoted as first and second-place teams from Group B, having ended on 12 points each, with Excelsior ahead based on a better goal difference.
Camperdown High, winners of the competition in 1978, 1979 and 1982, had finished on 17 points, four more than Tivoli Gardens High, who won in 1976 and 1999.
The main beneficiary of the disqualification is St Catherine High School, which had finished third behind Kingston College and Mona High in Group C. St Catherine will now advance as one of the two best third-placed teams.
Jamaica College, Mona High, STATHS and St Catherine High will contest Group One of the quarter-finals, while Excelsior High, Kingston College, Kingston Technical High and Charlie Smith High will compete in Group Two.
The quarter-finals begin on Friday with STATHS opposing St Catherine High at 1:00 pm ahead of Jamaica College vs Mona High at 3:00 pm at Stadium East.
On Saturday, Group Two action takes the spotlight with Excelsior High opposing Kingston Technical at 1:00 pm, and Kingston College taking on Charlie Smith at 3:00 pm. Both games will be played at Stadium East.
Yesterday, Lofters told the YouTube channel that his players were devastated by the ruling from ISSA.
“The principal hugged me today (yesterday) and he was crying and he was saying, ‘coach I let you down’. The kids are devastated, it is like a few students died today, so I don’t want to argue rules and regulations, but I just want ISSA clearinghouse to be more vigilant because we can make errors, you have people who try to go around the system and you have people who don’t, but the ISSA clearinghouse has to be more vigilant.”
ISSA president Keith Wellington tried to clear the air.
“We became aware of one yesterday (Monday morning) and the other yesterday (Monday) afternoon. In terms of the situation, I think both cases are a little bit different but the breach occurred with basically the same rule.”
Wellington explained that the rule breached states that a transferee or a new student from another institution who is already 16 years old on the 1st of September of the school year of the competition must have a waiting period of 12 months before he or she is eligible upon approval of the executive, excepting for if the student is entering the sixth form or unless the student is being placed via a Government examination.