ISSA defends Walker, Ben Francis Cup format
ISSA President Keith Wellington has defended the format of the Ben Francis and Walker Cup competitions, saying those who refer to the competitions as 'Loser Cups' are unfair.
The argument about the competitions being watered down resurfaced recently following comments by Cornwall College head coach Dean Weatherly, who said after his school's 2-1 defeat to Edwin Allen in the Ben Francis Cup quarter-finals that it was hard to motivate his players for the game, as the competition is considered the Loser's Cup.
However, Wellington insists the new format, since 2019, is geared towards helping lower-ranked teams have an extended season and get an opportunity to lift a trophy at the end of it.
"Most people don't understand the process of development and what it means to a school that is playing the so-called 'Loser's Cup', to be able to play a few more games and get a chance to take home some silverware," he said.
"STETHS have not lost a match all season, Manchester lost just one game, so can we call those teams losers? It is unfair to the youth."
Wellington says there is no intention to change the current format, which sees team eliminated at the Manning Cup and DaCosta Cup quarter-finals contesting the Walker Cup semis and Ben Francis quarter-finals.
"We are pleased with the format and the outcome we have seen," he said.
Manning Cup coaches Anthony Patrick, of St Catherine High School, and Craig Butler of Mona High School, all say the format is a good incentive for non-traditional schools to win a trophy. However, Butler wants a change to the format.
Defending champion St Catherine are in their second straight Walker Cup final.
"You have to ensure youngsters are playing for something," Patrick said. "They must have the opportunity to win something for their schools.
"Look at the [number] of teams in schoolboy football, but most schools don't have a single title to show.
"So the Walker Cup is just as important as the Manning Cup. A title is a title and you have to put your best foot forward and try to win it."
Butler says he prefers the days when the competition included all schools.
"When I played Manning Cup, the Walker Cup was a full knockout competition," he said. "But now it gives people a second bite at the cherry. It is also an opportunity for schools who didn't go through in the Manning Cup to actually bring something home for their school.
"But I would love to see it change to what it was before, because I think it is important for people to fight for what they want."