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Belief kills and belief scores

Verona
Antoine-Smith

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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On November 30, 2018 Kingston College (KC) and St George's College played an intriguing Manning Cup final inside the National Stadium. The match, dubbed 'The battle of the North Street giants' proved to be just that. In the dying moments of the match with KC trailing 2-1, their Coach Ludlow Bernard indicated to Nathan “Kante” Thomas that he was about to be substituted. In response, he ran to the sidelines and pleaded, “Duh, nuh tek mi off, Coach. Mi have one inna mi. Please, believe in mi, Coach.” Coach Bernard obliged.

No sooner than he resumed playing, his teammate Michael Allen scored the equaliser and within another three minutes Kante himself scored the winning goal giving KC a 3-2 victory. This was his first goal ever in open play, and it emerged from his unwavering belief in his own potential.

As the curtains came down on the 2018 Inter-secondary Schools Sport Association (ISSA) schoolboy football season it became evident that perceptions and beliefs play a critical role in determining the outcome of any life event, including football matches. This was gleaned from the usual post-game arguments of which school should have won. However, there is one argument that needs to be settled, and that is, who are the real champions of the 2018 schoolboy football season?

Indisputably, Clarendon College is the all-island football champion, after winning the daCosta Cup by defeating every rural team they encountered and subsequently Manning Cup champions KC to earn the 1909 Olivier Shield. The Olivier Shield is the hallmark of schoolboy football supremacy. So congratulations to Clarendon College.

However, there were several cups of varying tiers of prestige to be attained throughout the season. Are the teams that won a title the only ones worthy of recognition?

Fact or fiction

The truth is our young football players who are enrolled in secondary schools islandwide are all champions in their own right. The high quality of football they display should have been a glimmer of hope for the future of our senior football programme, but unfortunately the transition has proven difficult. Each year, several outstanding players who were interested in pursuing professional football either discontinue their pursuits or migrate to pursue them.

A St Catherine-based high school coach identified three main reasons for this quandary. He said the lack of professional structure in the senior programme was the greatest limitation. He also criticised premier league coaches who, he insisted, were not as competent as their European counterparts in terms of vision, depth of technical knowledge, training techniques and strategies. Lastly, he said training facilities were substandard and therefore became a physical deterrent to the training process. Coach Lenworth “Lenny” Hyde concurred, adding that the Jamaica Football Federation no longer sponsors camps for aspiring footballers or has the resources to effect the requisite improvements. So what happens now that the season has ended?

Students first

Well, most of these students are in their final years of high school. This means they have academic goals and responsibilities just like any other student. At the end of the school year they hope to be sufficiently equipped to pursue their career goals. But too often that fact is ignored and they are only perceived as footballers. They actually make a huge sacrifice for their school because they could have opted to focus on nothing but their studies. In addition, although they all undergo the same rigorous training, some of them scarcely get the opportunity to showcase their personal talent because they are reserves.

Case in point, in the daCosta Cup finals between Cornwall and Clarendon College, goalkeeper Tafari Chambers of Clarendon College was red-carded in the 14th minute. Coach Hyde indicated that substitute Alston Corke had not played all season but he had always told him that his day would come and he must be ready. Without warning, his time to shine came in this crucial match against an indomitable Cornwall team. Corke had to man that goal to keep the hopes of his school and parish alive. Clarendon College won with 10 players. Had it not been for his diligence and commitment to serving his school and supporting from the bench he could not have risen to the challenge when he was summoned. Needless to say, Coach Hyde did not panic when Chambers was sent off because he believed in his abilities.

Real champions

Every student who participates in the ISSA schoolboy competition 2018 must be commended for their efforts whether they won a title or not. So this message is for you: Cup or no cup, your sportsmanship and tenacity did not go unnoticed. Your sense of duty to your team was awesome. Your humility, even in defeat, was profound and the joy in your victory was shared by many. You made your schools, families and communities proud. You did yourselves proud. You are all champions. Thank you for making the season what it was.

Congratulations to Manning Cup champions KC and daCosta Cup and Olivier Shield champions Clarendon College. Congratulations to Cornwall College, winners of the Champions Cup. Congratulations to Charlemont and Hydel High, winners of the Ben Francis and Walker Cup respectively.

Top strikers

Big up top strikers Marcovich Brown of St Catherine, 18 goals in the first round alone; Ronaldo Webster of St Elizabeth Technical (20)a; Aiden Jokomba of Cornwall College (16); Nicque Daley of Clarendon College (14); Chantomoi Taylor of St George's College (13)b and Giovani Mitto of Frome Technical (12).

Well done, Oneeko Allen of KC (10)b; Jhavoy Dias of Rusea's High (9)a; Andrew Layne of Port Antonio (9); Phillon Lawrence of Holy Trinity (7); Jason Dyer of BB Coke (7); Norman Campbell of Jamaica College (6) and Trayvone Reid of KC (6). Last but not least, a special big up to all defenders.

Now go out there and leave your mark on the world. Strive for excellence in your pursuits and don't stop trying until you succeed. Like Nathan “Kante” Thomas, you must recognise when the time has come to fulfil your purpose. Sometimes you may need support and get it. However, sometimes no one will be there. But don't be daunted. Never give up. Always believe in yourself no matter what.

NB:

a. Goal count accurate up to the quarter final stage of the daCosta Cup competition

b. Goal count accurate up to second round stage of the Manning Cup competition

Verona Antoine-Smith is a teacher in a public secondary school. She holds a master's degree in educational administration. Send comments to the Observer or to verona.antoinesmith@gmail.com.


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