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What is Jamaican Schoolboy Football?
The first high school football competition in Jamaica took place in 1909. It was on a knock-out basis competing for the Olivier Shield. Martinez Shield was another popular football tournament played by the schoolboy teams during the same period. These matches primarily paved the way for the birth of Jamaican Schoolboy Football. This is a series of football matches for high school boys in Jamaica.
An online community came up in September 2012 to rejuvenate and increase the interest of current and past high school boys who love the sport. Today, the community has a large number of visitors across multiple groups such as teachers, students, alumni, and such other football enthusiasts.
History of the Major Competitions
Over the years, the Jamaican Schoolboy Football began to represent several annual football competitions to motivate high school boys belonging to all age categories to give their best performances. These competitions focus on high school students in both corporate and rural areas of the island.
The Manning Cup tournament focuses on schoolboys under 19 years of age in schools in the urban areas of St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew. The first match was played in 1914. Although five schools registered for the competition, New College eventually dropped out. The competition took place among Jamaica College, St. George’s College, Wolmer’s Schools, and Calabar High School. The tournament featured a total of 12 matches and Jamaica College won the final match.
The most recent competition was held in 2018 with Kingston College bagging the trophy. Jamaica College has the credit of winning the tournament the maximum number of times with more than 28 trophies.
The Olivier Shield tournament includes the participation of high school boys from both corporate and rural areas. The competition is held between the winners of both the Manning Cup and the DaCosta Cup. Until 2013, the game followed a home-and-away two-leg format. This meant that if both the competing teams shared the same score after two matches, there was a possibility of both the teams winning the title.
However, from 2014, the game format was changed to a one-leg play-to-finish format. This meant that only one team emerged the winner and two teams could not share the title.
The DaCosta Cup tournament is aimed at the secondary schools across Jamaica in the rural areas. These rural areas comprise around 11 parishes across the country, as well as a few schools from Saint Catherine like St. Catherine High, Charlemont, and Dinthill Technical. The first tournament was played in 1950 with Munro College coming out as the winner.
The DaCosta Cup was not held five times since its inception. The first time was in 1954 when the match did not take place following a polio epidemic. The match was abandoned in the years 1960, 1966, 1972, and 1997 due to various reasons. The last tournament took place in 2018 and Clarendon College won the final match. The tournament is held every year between September and December.
The Walker Cup tournament was first held in the year 1961. Like the Manning Cup, the tournament takes place between high school boys in the corporate areas of the Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine. The eight losing teams in the quarterfinals of the Manning Cup will qualify to play for this competition.
St. George’s College won the match the first year. In the last match played in 2018, Hydel High was declared the winning team. The tournament did not take place in 1966, 1972, 1973 and 1997.
Ben Francis Cup
The Ben Francis Cup tournament can be considered as the rural counterpart of the Walker Cup. The competition is conducted for the high school boys in the rural areas of Jamaica. The last two teams that lose in the quarterfinals of the DaCosta Cup play this match.
The tournament first took off in 1982. The format of the game changed in 2018. Vere Technical was declared the winner of this tournament when the match was first played while Charlemont High lifted the cup during the last match held in 2018.
The Super Cup tournament is the most recent tournament included in the Jamaican Schoolboy Football series. It was introduced in 2014 and is played by schoolboys of both the corporate and rural areas. Eight schools from the corporate area compete against eight schools from the rural area in a one-leg knockout format. The bottom four teams of one area play against the top four teams of the other area. Matches are also held in the reverse combination.
Until 2018, the Super Cup was also known as the Flow Super Cup. However, after the sponsorship agreement with Flow came to an end, the tournament came to be known as ISSA Champions Cup. In the first year, Jamaica College emerged the winner. The last match in 2018 was a victory for Cornwall College. This was the first time a school from a rural area won the tournament.
Elron Cup and Galloway Cup
The Elron Cup (U14) and Galloway Cup (U16) tournaments are played among teams with participants under 14 and 16 years of age respectively. Students from both rural and urban areas take part in these matches.
How Jamaica Schoolboy Football Help the School Boys
Jamaican Schoolboy Football has helped more and more schoolboys in the secondary level develop a love for the sport. With various types of matches for schools in both rural and corporate areas, deserving boys from all over the country get equal opportunities to play in a tournament. This motivates them to do their best and learn from their mistakes so that they can do better in upcoming matches. The sport also plays a great role in contributing to the overall youth development. It has also helped the boys to mingle with their peers from other schools. The competitions also play a major role in identifying the outstanding team and upcoming players in the country.
Interestingly, the Jamaican Schoolboy Football has been instrumental in schoolboys participating in athletics championships like the ISSA Boys and Girls Athletics Championships and the Western Athletics Championships. This is especially true in the case of children from rural areas. For example, these athletic championships quite often see active participation from the rural school Cornwall College. This college also participates in various competitions and events in other games like basketball, table tennis, hockey, and chess organized by different official bodies.
Jamaican Schoolboy Football has helped the sport of football flourish in the country. This has made football one of the most popular sports in the island today. It has been very active in bringing out the best in its players and even resulting in some of them playing in the World Cup in their later years. Many of these schoolboy players also play in the Jamaican National Premium League.