The 2019 Samuel P. Haven National High School Soccer Championships are set for April 27 to May 4, as announced on Wednesday at the Ministry of Education’s office on Thompson Blvd.
The high school soccer nationals will be staged by the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Bahamas Football Association (BFA) and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
There are representatives on the senior boys and girls side from the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS), the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA), the Grand Bahama Secondary Schools Athletic Association (GBSSAA) and the Abaco School Sports Association (ASSA) who will be in this year’s championships. The BFA is welcoming other high school sports associations to enter the fray once they are up to standard.
According to Carl Lynch, assistant secretary general in the BFA, one of the twists to this year’s competition is that the first leg of the championships will be held in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
“We have been listening to our constituents and people from Freeport have been asking when are they going to get a part of the nationals. They are very passionate about soccer and they support their young people, and we are going to make that happen,” Lynch said.
In that first leg, the GSSSA and BAISS runners-up will play the champions and runner-up in the GBSSAA.
Lynch said the BFA is increasing its role in local high school soccer as mandated by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the regional governing body for the sport. This will be the first time in the brief history of the high school soccer nationals that all of the participating associations would have already crowned its champions well in advance.
“In the past we’ve had schools that had finished their programs early in the year, and they had to come and get refreshed for the high school nationals. Their level of play was not where it needed to be, but this year everybody is going to be crowned by the first or second week in April. After the Easter break, they will have a week to train, then it will be time for nationals,” Lynch said.
Senior Education Officer in the Ministry of Education Evon Wisdom announced that the Sports Unit in the Department of Education of the ministry will submit an application to the International School Sport Federation (ISF) for The Bahamas to participate in sports at the high school level internationally.
This means that when the ministry ratifies an all-star national high school team, that team would be able to go to championships for various high schools throughout the world, representing The Bahamas. This includes basketball and volleyball, among other sports.
With the emergence of soccer, organizers of the high school nationals said that the Roscow A.L. Davies Soccer Field will be the New Providence venue and are expecting it to be filled to capacity. Lynch said that there has been an increase in the interest in high school soccer over the past few years.
As for development on the Family Islands, Lynch said: “Our technical department is responsible for taking a look at the various associations and schools on the islands to see what level of football they play. I know that Eleuthera, Andros, Exuma and maybe Long Island, they are looking at. Until we get a report back from them about these areas, that’s all I can speak on at this point.”
Lynch said the BFA is also launching a coaching academy to bring Bahamian coaches up to the level they need to be at in order to be comparable throughout the region. The association is looking for high school coaches to be a part of the program. The technical department will be working with the GSSSA coaches next week, right before their season kicks off.
Also according to Lynch, a dance competition for the participants of the high school soccer nationals is being contemplated. More information will be released at a later date.
Last year, the Lyford Cay International School Dragons defeated the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves to win the boys’ division. The Lucaya International School won the girls’ division last year, defeating the Queen’s College Comets in the championship game.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism