It's been a good schoolboy football season

It's been a good schoolboy football season

Saturday, December 07, 2019

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Back in September, after severe lightning storms threatened life and limb and forced the rescheduling of a few games, there was real concern about the sustainability of the 2019 schoolboy football season.

Credit is due to participating schools and organising body, the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) that we are now into the final fixture of the season, relatively smoothly and on schedule.

Thankfully, we have had no reports of serious indiscipline involving players, spectators, et al.

We expect today's all-island Olivier Shield final between rural champions Clarendon College and urban Manning Cup champions Jamaica College at the National Stadium in Kingston to provide a fitting climax to a most competitive season.

For expert analysts, there would have been a few surprises. For example, 2018 Manning Cup champions Kingston College probably fell short of widespread expectations, restricted as they were to the Champions Trophy only.

There's been great applause, though, for the success of two 'unfashionable' schools — St Catherine High and B B Coke High. Their show of talent, perseverance, and desire in winning the urban knockout competition, the Walker Cup, and the rural equivalent, the Ben Francis Cup, was a pleasure for football watchers.

All that said, it's debatable whether the overall standard of schoolboy football in 2019 has been as good as it was last season, or in recent seasons.

It seems fair to say that neither Clarendon College nor Jamaica College boasts the technical and tactical quality of teams from those schools in recent years.

Certainly, this Jamaica College squad doesn't seem to quite match the natural talent displayed by that school in 2015, for example.

It seems to us that what Jamaica College have shown, above all else — even as they struggled to score goals in open play as the season approached its conclusion — is the kind of never-say-die hunger which nurtures success, whatever the endeavour.

In the case of Clarendon College, they make no claims to being able to match the star-studded 2018 squad which included Messrs Lamar Walker, Nique Daley, and Ricardo McIntosh.

But, as their coach Mr Lenworth Hyde — himself a star player for Clarendon College from the late 1970s — said last week: “This year we don't have a national representative but we came through...”

Like Jamaica College, the Clarendon-based school have shown great desire. They also deserve commendation for attempting to stick to the attractively patient, possession style that has been a feature of their play through thick and thin.

We wish for all the players, good health and fortune in today's final, and may the best team win.

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