Brilliant end expected for great 2018 schoolboy football season

Saturday, December 08, 2018

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We are at one with Digicel Schoolboy (Manning Cup) football ambassador Mr Ricardo Fuller that the 2018 schoolboy season, which ends today with Kingston College (KC) and Clarendon College vying for the all-island Olivier Shield, was “great”.

This newspaper believes that decades from now, football followers will be reminiscing about the 2018 schoolboy football season because of the high quality of play they witnessed.

Just as people talk about the Kingston College (KC) side of the mid-1960s, the Vere Technical sides of the late 60s and early 70s, the Clarendon College and St Elizabeth Technical sides of '77, so, many years from now, the 2018 season will generate chatter.

From one end of the island to the next, this season, team play has been constructive and tactically disciplined, reflecting, we believe, much improved coaching in recent years. Twinned to that aspect have been plenty of individual flair, innovation, and improved first-touch control.

So, now to today's game: What an Olivier Shield this promises to be! So many times in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Kingston College was the team to beat.

Incredibly, times have changed to such an extent that when KC came from behind to defeat classy St George's College and win the urban-based Manning Cup, they were claiming the title for the first time in 32 years. The last time KC won the Manning Cup in 1986 was also their last hold on the Olivier Shield.

Kingston sides have won the Olivier Shield battle against all-rural daCosta Cup champions every time in the last 12 years. And this year Kingston College, boasting solid defence as well as speed and skill up front facilitating devastating counter attacks, have every right to feel they can continue that dominance.

However, KC will be up against a Clarendon College side which knowledgeable observers are describing as the most exciting to come out of rural Jamaica in decades, perhaps approaching the standard of the great '77 side which featured current coach Mr Lenworth Hyde.

It seems fair to say that this Clarendon College team with their stylish, possession-biased football, have captured the imagination of football lovers not just in Clarendon and rural Jamaica but nationwide.

Inevitably, as has happened in the past, football followers are left to contemplate the future of so many talented footballers, many of whom are in their last year at high school.

We note Mr Fuller's suggestion that Jamaica's football authorities should be looking to get young, talented school-leavers into professional leagues in the Scandinavian countries of northern Europe. Indeed, several Jamaicans now parade their skills in those countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

Mr Fuller, among Jamaica's leading footballers of the last 20 years, had a successful professional career in high-profile England, but that window has largely closed because of tightened eligibility rules.

It seems to us though, that while European destinations for our talented young footballers must not be ignored, professional leagues in the USA, Canada and increasingly in Asia and Latin America provide natural stepping stones and good opportunities to earn.

It seems to us that for young, disciplined, talented footballers, the prospects have never been better.

That said, we wish for those involved in today's Olivier Shield all that's good.

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