ago, football fans at the Queen’s Park Oval were treated to a very exciting
National Championship (“Big Four”) final between Naparima and El Dorado.
finished in a 2-2 draw after extra-time, with El Dorado coming from
behind on two occasions to earn the tie. Neither team held back in giving
a performance that was in keeping with the occasion: the meeting of,
perhaps, the two best secondary school teams in the country with the
purpose of determining the national champions for 1999.
it seems that the game was not given the treatment that it should have
gotten from the SSFL. First of all, there was the problem of scheduling:
the decision to hold the “Big Four” tournament amidst the start of the
National Intercol competition has seriously backfired. For some reason,
the SSFL never bothered to set a replay date in advance and are now
in a quandary since both Naparima and El Dorado went into Intercol action
over the weekend.
may have been hoping that the final would have resolved via a penalty
shoot-out. But this scenario was always going to be unlikely in the
circumstances. The match commenced at 3:30 p.m. and, when one took into
account the possibility of extra time, there was all likelihood that
open play would not have come to an end before 6 p.m. – at which time
it becomes quite dark at this time of the year. In addition, it has
been proven more than once that the Oval’s floodlights – installed for
cycling in 1987 – are inadequate for on field sporting events. There
have only been a couple of occasions on which referees have ventured
to go ahead with penalties at night, and each time there was a sense
of sympathy for the participants.
confusion regarding the status of the replay has only served to exacerbate
the error of sandwiching the “Big Four” in between the zonal competition
and the National Intercol. Now, there is no time to hold the replay
until after the Intercol has been completed. Yes, there has been talk
of having the replay as part of a double-header with the National Intercol
final – provided that neither “Naps” nor “El Do” are involved in the
latter. But, such a scenario would only serve to devalue the “Big Four,”
particularly in light of its aforementioned purpose.
the “Big Four” tournament decides the champion secondary school team,
it is only just that it be held at the end of the season. Then, there
will be plenty of time for replays. In fact, there will also be the
opportunity to revert to the more challenging round robin format, rather
than the knockout formula that belongs with the Intercol.
has been understandably concerned about the relative lack of interest
in the “Big Four” on the part of fans of those teams whose seasons have
ended during the Intercol. But this is simply natural behaviour that
happens to be exhibited by a large portion of football supporters. What
the League must do is to try and promote the “Big Four” and let it be
known that the participants are the top teams in the country, the sides
that have proven themselves in zonal competition. It has to target those
fans that are interested in seeing the best in action.
the SSFL must do everything it can to ensure that the champion secondary
school is the last team standing, at the end of the season.