Sun | Sep 26, 2021

PTAs vital to schoolboy football return – ISSA

Published:Monday | July 6, 2020 | 12:00 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica College’s Isaac Scott (right) weaves his way between St Andrew Technical High School’s Steven McQueen (left) and Rusean McFarquhar during the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup final at the National Stadium on Friday, November 29, 2019.

Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) President Keith Wellington says that parent-teacher associations (PTAs) will be factored into plans to start high-school sports later this year.

ISSA announced plans to have competitions, including football, basketball, and netball, for the upcoming school term last Tuesday. The body has targeted a mid- to late October return for the 2020 schoolboy football season, pending government approval, as schools move towards physical reopening in September, while still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The body’s sanctioned high-school competitions, like the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, have been suspended or cancelled since the local outbreak in March. Wellington believes that whatever protocols they propose to ensure safety, the involvement of PTAs is important as parents will have the final say whether their children can compete this year.

“At the end of the day, it is going to come down to the parents’ willingness to allow their kids to participate,” Wellington told The Gleaner. “So it’s not going to matter what type of environment or what type of plans are in place. Every single participant in the competition will have to have the approval of their parents to be involved. So it’s important from our perspective to ensure that the parents have an understanding of what we are trying to do, and that they assess the plans that we have in place.”

Wellington said that talks are ongoing with the Ministry of Health and Wellness regarding protocols, including plans for COVID-19 testing.

“There was some indication that testing would have taken place in September in schools and in communities, so we are looking at what is it the Ministry of Health is proposing, and what it is they can help us with,” he said.

While the current plans for the football season are subject to the safety guarantee of stakeholders, Wellington has acknowledged the concerns about resuming competition this year, despite the phased reopening of certain industries. However, he says that ISSA has the obligation to be proactive should approval be given for the competitions to take place.

“We are in the position, unlike most persons, where we have the responsibility to provide the opportunity for our students,” he said. “Therefore, while we share the concerns, we have to look beyond those concerns and ensure that we make our preparations.

“We put in place the plans so that if and when it becomes possible, then we would not be caught napping and that we would have fulfilled our mandate of providing the opportunity for these students.”