Schools football coordinators give programme thumbs-up despite challenges

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By Neto Baptiste

Coordinator of schools’ football, Rowan Benjamin, believes that despite the many challenges still faced, this year’s programme has been a success.

Speaking with OBSERVER media, Benjamin said that a number of schools performed creditably throughout the competitions with some set to climax next month.

“There is just the playoffs for the league under-20 that’s left to play, and also the girls’ knockout cup, so we have those two identified already. Ottos Comprehensive, they will play All Saints Secondary [in the girls] and the four semifinalists are Ottos Comprehensive, PMS, All Saints Secondary [defending champions] and Irene B Williams entering for the first time, and I am very pleased with that,” he said.

“The coaches are now preparing the teams, and hopefully we are going to play these matches in the first week of the new school term, so we’re expecting some very good performances from these guys,” he added.

The coordinator paid special attention to two schools that he said have been consistent over the years.

“I must say that I was pretty much pleased with the under-14s of the Ottos Comprehensive, they would have gone unbeaten. The under-16 girls and the Antigua Girls High School also dominated and retained their championship; and the senior girls of the Ottos Comprehensive, they would have won the under-20 female; so all in all, I must say it is looking very bright, and not forgetting also that the All Saints Secondary under-16 boys, they would have retained their championship,” he said.

This year, the schools competitions were placed under the microscope with reports that a number of coaches had not been turning out for scheduled sessions at schools. The issue was eventually probed during a meeting with Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew.

This, Benjamin said, was just one of the issues faced by the competition.

“We still have our hiccups with transportation and refereeing, and especially in the area of refereeing which is becoming a huge problem, not only in schools’ football but also in football overall in Antigua and Barbuda,” the coordinator said. The scheduled finals will be contested at the Antigua Recreation Grounds on a date to be announced.

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