Thu, May

The players of Pleasantville Secondary celebrate their victory in the Coca-Cola Girls InterCol final over Miracle Ministries Pentecostal High School at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Thursday, December 7th 2023. PHOTO BY: Jermaine Cruickshank

GIRLS football will be a big feature of the 2024 season, the year when the Secondary Schools Football League celebrates its 60th anniversary.

While honouring the top achievers of the 2023 season yesterday, at its annual awards and prize distribution function at the Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce, SSFL president Merere Gonzales promised the formation of a Girls Premier Division this coming season.

The new season will open with an exhibition match between Girls InterCol champions Pleasantville Secondary and League champions Scarborough Secondary, alongside the traditional boys season-opening showcase to be contested between the Premier Division champions Fatima College and Coca-Cola InterCol winners Presentation College San Fernando.

Gonzales also signalled a determination to begin the long-promised Girls Under-13 league, again dependent on sponsor interest. Additionally schools futsal, beach soccer, and e-sport activities are planned features of the 60th anniversary celebrations.

Yesterday’s awards ceremony drew a strong turnout of student-athletes to receive their awards. There were also pan and calypso contributions of by members of Holy Faith Convent, Couva.

Gonzales thanked sponsors First Citizens, Shell, the National Gas Company, Coca-Cola and SportsMax for their continued involvement in the development of schools football, noting that it would not be possible without them.

“It’s is the only organisation (SSFL) that facilitates, at this point in time, so many student-athletes in Trinidad and Tobago,” Gonzales stated.

The SSFL president also urged the students to pay strong attention to their education, since there is life after football.

“You are students first, and you are athletes after,” Gonzalez noted.

Reflecting on the 2023 campaign where there were a couple of unsavoury moments late in the season, especially in the Championship Division Big Five competition, Gonzalez waved the big stick.

“The SSFL is not an advocacy of misconduct,” Gonzales said, and indicated that the organisation would take a no-tolerance policy towards violence and urged competitors to be self disciplined at all times.

Delivering the feature address was Brian Lewis, general secretary of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC). He urged the footballers to pay special attention to their education, noting they were the future of T&T in all areas. He also noted the importance of the SSFL in producing outstanding former national footballers such Dwight Yorke, Shaka Hislop, Kenwyne Jones, Russell Latapy and current national coach Angus Eve, among them.

“The Secondary Schools Football League is the breeding ground for great Trinidad and Tobago footballers,” Lewis declared.

SOURCE: T&T Express