The country’s premier high school soccer players will have one final opportunity to display their skills in front of a large audience this season, as the 2018 Samuel P. Haven High School National Soccer Championships are scheduled for April 17-21, at the Roscoe Davies Field.
After being cancelled last year for several reasons, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST), Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MOYSC), and the Bahamas Football Association (BFA), have teamed up to put on the week-long event, with the Island Luck Cares Foundation serving as title sponsor.
Senior education officer at MOEST Evon Wisdom said Wednesday that it was imperative to give local soccer players another outlet to be seen – not only locally – but by collegiate coaches all over the world, as the championships will broadcast live on the internet.
“We are so happy to be back with the BFA, putting this event together for our youth athletes, who really deserve it,” Wisdom said.
“Athletes in track and field, basketball and several other sports are afforded many opportunities to showcase what they can do, but now soccer is in that realm. This tournament has been sanctioned three years in a row with one missing. So, it brings me great pleasure to have it again.
“We see this tournament as a tool to help the BFA to fulfill its mandate of developing soccer in the country. The popularity of the tournament continues to grow so much, that we were asked to involve our junior high school. We are also putting together a development program on the Family Islands, so they too, can be invited and play in the national championships.”
The high school nationals will be played in a single-elimination format, with all of the games being held after school hours, to garner as much support from the public as possible.
Seeing that both the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) and the Grand Bahama Secondary Sports Association (GBSSA) leagues come to an end this weekend, the first-round matchups won’t be decided until Monday.
“We are glad to be back hosting this event once again,” said BFA Assistant Secretary General Adam Miller.
“Last year the BFA received a once in a lifetime opportunity to host the Beach Soccer World Cup. We also hosted CONCACAF right before that. So around that time, all of our resources and manpower was tied to pulling that off.
“Because of that, we didn’t want to throw together some last-minute thing for the kids just to say we had it. This year, we are looking to expand on the first division. We are adding additional boys and girl’s teams out of Grand Bahama. Four of the teams play in a random draw and those winners play the champions from the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) and Grand Bahama, and the winners from there play that Saturday.
“Once teams win on Tuesday they are guaranteed a top four finish, and then from there, anything can happen.”
BFA consultant Carl Lynch added that the association is working feverishly to bring the Family Island programmes up to standard.
“The question is, how do we include islands like Abaco that only have one or two schools,” Lynch said.
“By 2019, we want to expect to have solutions in place for these kinds of issues.”
Although the other two leagues aren’t finished as yet, champions have already been crowned in the BAISS.
St. Andrew’s won the senior boys division, while Queen’s College captured the senior girls title. Lyford Cay and Aquinas were runners up in the boys and girl’s divisions respectively.