Sport

Name change and new 12-month calendar in huge West Cork schoolboys soccer shake-up

April 4th, 2021 11:00 AM

By Ger McCarthy

Drinagh Rangers pictured after winning the 2015 SuperValu West Cork Schoolgirls League. The WCSL is now changing the league’s title to the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League.

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THE West Cork Schoolboys League is planning a major shake-up ahead of a return to on-field action.

Last week, the WCSL Committee and delegates’ meeting took place where a number of important changes to existing league structures were announced.

The headline news surrounds the changing of the league’s title to the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League and a move to a full 12-month calendar of competitions, including outdoors between March and October plus indoors (Futsal) between November and February. This marks a radical departure by the league.

The WCSL is also looking to fill the important committee role of PRO over the coming months.

Also, clubs will have to meet statutory obligations before any child can step back on a pitch, post-Covid. Making sure each West Cork club is child welfare compliant is one of the league’s top priorities over the coming weeks. The FAI’s Ray Claffey has agreed to run a West Cork on Child Safety 1 Course in early April which all WCSL club delegates can attend.

‘Changing our league’s name is the first step we must take to properly incorporate schoolgirls’ football in West Cork,’ WCSL Chairman Declan Deasy told The Southern Star.

‘West Cork must be inclusive when it comes to delivering football to young players, boys or girls, throughout the region. We want to get as many girls as possible playing football regularly throughout West Cork. Our aim this year, as a league, is to get some form of schoolgirls’ competition(s) going.

‘The first step in that process is an important one and that is to change our name to the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League. We want to give schoolgirls a voice, as well as the schoolboys, be treated equally and enjoy all the benefits of playing competitive underage football.’

‘This is not being done just for the sake of a name change,’ added WCSL Secretary David Hall.

‘As part of the league’s new set of deliverables, new formalised schoolgirls competitions will be introduced, depending on playing numbers, for the coming season. We do envisage girls’ competitions taking place sometime later this year. There is an EGM taking place on April 1st where the league’s official name will become the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League (WCSSL).’

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It is the introduction of a new schedule of indoor Futsal competitions, for schoolchildren aged between 11 and 16, that is going to transform the traditional WCSL season format.

The West Cork Schoolboys League has encountered an increased number of issues since deciding to play their leagues and cups throughout the summer. Players continue to be involved in a huge amount of sporting activities during those months. With that in mind, the WCSL is proposing to adopt a new ‘less is more’ strategy.

‘The WCSL Committee is proposing a new March to October season with a reduced number of fixtures for our associated (outdoor) football,’ David Hall explained.

‘Our new deliverable for 2021 is the introduction of indoor Futsal competitions for all age groups from the month of November through until February. That will mean a complete 12-month WCSL calendar of both indoor and outdoor football for our players.

‘By having less association (outdoor) football we will be able to deliver a bigger overall offering, in general, to all our age-groups. We are proposing to introduce different venues, indoor halls, to host our weekly Futsal competitions for all our age groups between November and February.’

Should the WCSL go ahead with the introduction of an indoor Futsal season, from a technical perspective, they would become the first schoolboys or schoolgirls league in the country to adopt Futsal as a primary deliverable.

‘The FAI’s National Futsal Co-ordinator, Simon Walsh, has been a great support on the administrative and logistical side,’ Hall said.

‘None of the Futsal deliverables we are introducing for West Cork (U11 to U16) will affect the great work the FAI’s Ray Claffey currently does in our region. Ray’s work on Saturday mornings with all our younger WCSL age groups, running weekly Futsal blitzes in Dunmanway, will continue as before.’

Also in 2021, the WCSL believes it can alleviate the pressure of extra sporting demands on their schoolboys and schoolgirls players by lessening the amount of outdoor games they will be asked to fulfil.

‘We believe utilising a Champions League or group-style approach to our leagues and cups, an approach that proved hugely successful in last year’s competitions, will enable us to complete all our fixtures,’ Declan Deasy explained.

‘That approach will also give every team something to play for right up until the end of the season. We believe the group system approach will keep teams interested. Even if a team doesn’t win their initial group games, our new approach means they will end up playing teams of a similar standard and be involved in competitive and close games until the end of the campaign.

‘Our bottom line is that we want to make playing WCSL football as enjoyable as possible for the participants involved.’

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