Rivoli Utd aim for prolonged stay in top tier football
SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine - With relegation fears now averted, coach Calvert Fitzgerald said his aim is to help establish Rivoli United as a permanent fixture in the top order of local football.
The Spanish Town outfit is well known throughout the country, but has a reputation for being in-and-out of the National Premier League. They only returned to the premiership last summer following a three-year spell in the South Central Confederation Super League.
Now Fitzgerald, who has been with Rivoli since their time in the second tier, is looking to extend the club's top flight stay for as long as possible.
"In 2010, when we just got relegated," said Fitzgerald, "we set out to establish a three-year plan: We wanted to build a new team, with a core group of young players who can grow together and learn from the more experienced heads.
"I believe we have done that, so now — with the backing of our management, who has been doing a good job — the aim is to remain in the Premier League."
Reflecting on their first season back in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), Fitzgerald, a former Waterhouse, Tivoli Gardens and August Town coach, reckons they have had a "fairly good" campaign. Rivoli are currently fifth in the 12-team league, having secured their place in next season's competition with a 2-1 win over parish rivals Portmore United on Sunday.
"In an earlier interview," remembered Fitzgerald, "I said we were aiming for the semi-finals, but over time we had to adjust that (vision) and aim for the top half. Now, looking at the overall picture, I would say we have had a fairly good season. We are unbeaten in nine games and in fifth place with two games to go."
The St Thomas native also heaped praises on his captain Devon Hodges, who has been Rivoli's most influential player in the last decade - particularly for his goalscoring ability.
This season, the former Wadadah FC player, who has had loan stints in the Vietnamese league, is again leading from the front - topping the RSPL's scoring chart with 16 goals.
"He's definitely our top player," noted Fitzgerald. "He has been doing the job for us for many years. But what we are trying to do now is get the other attackers to emulate him. That process is taking some time. However, we know it will happen - slowly, but surely."
Rivoli will close out their campaign with games against Sporting Central Academy today and Tivoli Gardens on Sunday.