Barry Watson in rebuilding mode at Mile Gully
'Leaving Manchester High was a blessing in disguise'
MILE GULLY, Manchester — Barry Watson is easily the most recognisable coaching figure in Manchester football, having reaped success at all levels of the game.
He's the man who gave the parish its last Premier League team (Mile Gully) and the coach who is largely responsible for Manchester High's upturn in schoolboy football.
He was also responsible for Holmwood Technical's most successful period at the daCosta Cup level and now he's hoping to set a similar programme in motion at his hometown school Mile Gully High.
This is actually Watson's second stint at Mile Gully, having worked with the programme briefly in 2004 before departing for Manchester High whom he guided to the 2009 daCosta Cup final.
He eventually parted company with Manchester just before the start of the 2011 season under circumstances that are unclear, and which he declined to discuss.
"The mission at 'Chester' wasn't finished," he said. "I didn't plan to leave so soon because the programme that I put in place wasn't just about football; it was about developing youngsters," he added.
For Watson, returning to Mile Gully, in many ways, represents a continuation of what he started at Manchester High - perhaps a chance to do things better.
"Leaving Manchester High was really a blessing in disguise because I now have the opportunity to build a good youth programme in north-west Manchester," noted Watson, Manchester's longstanding INSPORTS officer.
"Mile Gully is my community and they have a big history. They are one of the few communities to produce a Premier League team so that's what we are really working towards again.
"Mile Gully is really a new school, so the aim is to use football to drive the school and by extension the community. It's a small school with about 200 boys to choose from, so it's really building from the ground up. They cannot afford to go out and get (ready-made) players; so what we have also decided to do is to create our own feeder programme by developing the players at the primary and all-age schools within the community," Watson said.
Mile Gully — drawn alongside Belfield, Cross Keys, Manchester and BB Coke — are currently third in Zone F, on five points, behind front-runners Manchester and Belfield and look certain to miss out on a place in the Inter-Zone round.
While disappointed with his team's poor run of form, Watson, who was recently added to the Jamaica Football Federation Technical Committee, is highly optimistic about the future.
"I'm a bit disappointed with the performance so far, because I think we have a decent enough side, but it's work in progress... Some of the players will be around for another two years or so," he said.
"We are building slowly," he added "and I'm sure Mile Gully will be a school to be reckoned with in the future."