It seems as if we are slow to learn from past mistakes or current conventions. What the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Assocation (ISSA) imposed on fans of schoolboy football on the weekend was a clear indication of both. It could also indicate a laziness or lack of vision that has plagued the development of sport in Jamaica.

I arrived at the stadium at about 4:05 Saturday. The match between Jamaica College and Wolmers had already begun. As I had not yet acquired tickets for my son and I, I stopped by the ticket booth across the road from the stadium entrance only to see that it was closed. I asked three girls standing nearby where tickets were being sold but none knew. I drove away and sought parking in the very full stadium parking lot. As I entered I asked the security guard where the tickets were being sold and she informed me that they were selling them at the grand stand entrance.

I parked and my son and I approached the grandstand entrance I saw a massive gathering. As I got closer I realized that the gathering was much larger than previously thought. People were pressed against the gates like cattle being herded. Within minutes thousands more converged and soon there were easily two or three thousand people there desperately trying to find ways to get closer to the gate where the tickets were being sold. Between them and the ticket booth was a wall of humanity.

Meanwhile, scalpers were making a killing but those who bought tickets off them were also unable to gain access because they had to find a way to successfully navigate the wall of humanity to get to the turnstiles. Pretty soon it became mission impossible and soon after that, the turnstiles were being closed off one by one. What that meant was that ticket holders for the grand stand were suddenly without means of entering the stadium where the match by then was already at an advanced stage.

Word soon filtered that gates to the bleachers were being opened to accommodate ticket holders which started a stampede as the growing throng, excited by the roars coming from inside the stadium, tried desperately to get in. However, they soon discovered that the gates were not opened forcing many to climb the walls to get inside the stadium. As it approached half time, thousands of bewildered patrons, myself included, were left without a way in. Many, myself included, left and returned home; money wasted, anger escalated.

What was it that prevented ISSA from making tickets available during the week leading up to the match? Wouldn’t it have been easier to have people buy their tickets beforehand and just present them on entering the stadium? Not even when the Reggae Boyz were playing when many more people showed up was there this crush of humanity at the grandstand gate. It was like someone took something from a playbook 50 years ago.

Why sell tickets at the same point where people were entering the stadium? Didn’t anyone see that this would have resulted in a crush of people at one point which would eventually lead to logjam at the entrance which would have made it difficult for people to both buy tickets and enter the stadium?

What resulted is that many of the people who watched that match in person only managed to see the second half of the match.

The great irony is that when you saw shots of the grandstand on television, even as thousands were caught in the logjam outside, you could see many, many available seats. Eventually people got in. I suspect accomplished that by climbing the walls. I can only guess at that because by the time the second half began I was comfortably seated in front of my television set. Based on what I could see there were as many people sitting in the bleachers as there were sitting in the grand stand, which brings me to my next issue.

Wolmers and JC are two of the most popular schools in the Corporate Area, a section of the country that has close to a million inhabitants. These were the Manning Cup finals, perhaps the biggest schoolboy competition on the island; did it cross anyone’s mind that more people than the 5000 available seats in the grand stand would turn up for the match, especially when one considers the fantastic semi-final match between former champions St. George’s and Wolmer’s last weekend that created such a buzz?

Given the momentum triggered by that match, it would not be unreasonable to believe that with a little bit of promotion and some strategic marketing ISSA could have got between 20 and 30,000 people turning out for the match. For $500 a ticket, they could have easily sold out the National Stadium. However, whether due to laziness or a lack of creativity that did not happen. Still thousands turned out to see Jamaica College clinch the title in an exciting encounter.

The major disappointment was that thousands who turned up at the national stadium missed Wolmer’s own goal and Jaheel Hyde’s brilliant free kick. They would have missed to prelude to what turned out to be an enthralling second half and extra time. It was also very disappointing in that in a country where sports is such a big deal, its administrators are still so woefully caught in a time warp 50 years in the past.

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9 Responses to “DISGRACEFUL ISSA”

  1. dallo says:

    well, we do know common sense ain’t that common these days. would be interesting to hear their side of the story though.

  2. DJ says:

    It is really disgraceful and quite frankly frustrated to learn this newest development. I wonder if the persons who are placed in leadership positions in this country if they are really true leaders! Many of these so called administrators and head of organizations i realize most of them are in the seat either because of links or because of political alliance and not because of qualifications and proven track record. A true leader is one of vision, creativity, ability to plan,execute under any circumstances and the ability to create new ideas to move an organization forward. Now we can add this newest issue to the ongoing missed opportunity to earn money. When is our leaders going to learn??? Sports is a multi-thrillion dollar industry!!!!! When are we going to learn and tap into it and better align ourselves to take advantage of this striving industry??? Administrators and the government of Jamaica as a concern citizen i am appealing to you to get yourself with the program and move the administration of sport to a next level to be align with the talent and elite level of athletes and coaches our nation is currently producing or else like anything else we will yet again be left behind wondering what if?????

  3. Plain Truth says:

    The real problem is that we put non-fans, ie people with no passion for sports, in charge of these matters.

    Any true fan would know that after the enthralling SFs, that the finals would be “corked”. People prefer to take credit that to DO.

  4. Ralph Williams says:

    I am surprised that there was poor planning for the sale of tickets. Come on ISSA get it right. I am disappointed myself especially as a former member of the ISSA Executive body.

  5. coachnello says:

    Great points!
    Issa is simultaneously running the 2 best football competitions in the land, of course there will be hiccups but guess what you cant throw the baby out with the bath-water. Talking bout best, its something to wonder when more people in a country prefer school-boy football more than that country’s premier league. Is school boy football bigger than the premier leagues in Germany, England or Spain?

  6. Nigel Taylor says:

    I am sorry to hear of Mr. Levy’s experience but can understand ISSA’s position too. It costs a lot to rent the entire stadium and the costs for the entire stadium may not have made it fiscally prudent even though a large turn out was a distinct possibility. In addition there is often destructive behavior, even with policeing on hand, that eats away at profits and much of this is unfortunately more prevalent in my favourite section (due to price)- the bleachers. I do think organization can be improved but I agree with the other writer(in the comments) that ISSA can be given a bit of a bly as their resources are not bottom-less and they have huge competitions in multiple sports now going on. Hopefully they will not have a repeat because in fairness. Manning Cup almost has a big 4 of Excelsior, JC , Wolmers and St Georges with teams like Charlie, KC, Norman Manley and Hydel being spoilers. Most of those teams will carry a crowd to the semifinal and final rounds esp. JC,( KC I presume(its been a while), Wolmers and Georges.

    On another note why does Jamaica have to limit its opportunities to so few? Is there no one but the CHASE leader (obvious clash of interests) to run the JCA? Did no journalist think it worthy to follow up on the obvious class of interest to have Hall, Team doctors Elliot, Dawes, etc on our anti-doping panels? It really makes you wonder if Jamaica believes brilliance is scarce in the country.

  7. Frankie says:

    @Nigel thanks much for your comment re: JCA/CHASE Fund CEO. Too many of these people like to have their fingers and toes in everything and this is not good.

  8. Thirty5 says:

    All too familiar unfortunately, went there for the independence celebrations. And I was taken aback at the fact that nothing has changed since I left the country going 15yrs. Despite the huge advancement our track athletes have been making over the years – drawing in a lot of fans and sponsors. The place would have been shut down in any other country aspiring to be modern. I am surprised the IAAF even sanction the building to host development meets. I am talking about the state of – better yet lack of – TOILETS. It was carnage to try and get my kids to the female one, in the end I had to take them outside of the stadium and find somewhere private for them to wee – 2013 not 1963 jamaica. Without any engineering training even I could easily see how toilets could be built on the outside around the stadium and then knock away a section of the stadium wall to create access door to it. So many Jamaicans have live/travelled in other countries and witness how things are done in those places, who can impart that knowledge back to our peers to help the country improve. Why that is not happening is worrying. Also I am not sure which planet Nigel arrived from with his comment – It costs a lot to rent the entire stadium and the costs for the entire stadium may not have made it fiscally prudent even though a large turn out was a distinct possibility. Are you saying that renting the stadium for a football game is only a partial rental? – when the football pitch itself is more than 60% of the stadium! The administrators out there are definitely on a different planet as well if that’s the case. Wake Up Jamaicans, we are too gifted to let bungling dummies lead us.

  9. nefertiti says:

    The sanitary facilities are a national disgrace!!!

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9 comments so far
levyl Posted by: levyl November 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm