FOOTBALLERS in St Thomas were urged to carve their niche in a sport that has opened doors for disenfranchised young Jamaicans.
Kerrian Francis, in delivering the keynote address at the St Thomas FA Awards ceremony last Wednesday at the Village Green Restaurant in Morant Bay, challenged the awardees to not only see themselves as participants, but to also strive to leave a positive legacy.
"Being part of a community or football team means people will know your name, but should you have to be away from the team what would people miss or remember about you?" she asked.
Francis, who holds a degree in media and communications, used her oratorical skills to enforce her point that excellence must be the benchmark for all constructive Jamaicans, whether on the field or in the wider sphere of life.
She used the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the image of the parish's most famous son, Paul Bogle, to suggest that one's physical appearance will ultimately be unimportant, but that one's deeds will reverberate.
"There was much recent uproar over the image we have all come to know as the representation of the Honourable Paul Bogle. But does it really matter what Paul Bogle looked like? I don't think so, because it is what he did that matters, it is because of him that I can stand here as a free woman with opportunities," she argued to the approval of the audience.
Also instructive from the UWI Mona graduate, was that success or failure in sport can critically be decided by one's attitude and general approach to choice endeavours.
"It's not always the player with the most skills that succeed. Not that he doesn't have skills, but when you look at a Ricardo Gardner and what he has achieved in the sport and the big money he makes, comes down to attitude and humility," Francis went on.
Meanwhile, St Thomas FA president Wayne Thompson outlined a number of achievements over the past year. He mentioned "the tremendous improvement" in the women's programme.
The parish's team gained their first win against Santos in the national Sherwin Williams sponsored league, and collected four points so far as a newcomer to the women's game.
Thompson begged the football constituency to support the fledgling women's programme, and also used the opportunity squash suggestion that the FA is wasting scarce resources on the female game.
"I want to encourage everyone to understand and support the FA in this regard as women's football goes beyond the mandate of JFF and FIFA, as more importantly it speaks to gender equality, a United Nations Development Goal, where the Government of Jamaica is a signatory," he said.
Thompson also singled out improvements in the administration of the competitions and the introduction of grassroots programme as other successes over the past year.
Still, he lamented the weakening club structure, lack of proper infrastructure and the inadequate financial support. In the same breath he praised the FA's main benefactors the Captain's Bakery and Grill, St Thomas Credit Union, Dr Fenton Ferguson and James Robertson.
Wayne Soltou, the financial controller of the Captain's Bakery, while praising the St Thomas FA for a well run competition, challenged its principals to work even harder to get a team from the parish into the Premier League.
He congratulated York United for their effort last year in getting to the final of the Eastern Confederation Super Championship, a qualifying tournament for the Premier League play-offs. The St Thomas champions were eliminated by Volvo of St Ann.
At Wednesday night's function York Sports Club received the Captain's Bakery Major League trophy, ahead of neighbours Seaforth Youth Club. The Dr Fenton Ferguson Division Two cup went to Kool Kat YC, with Hillside YC the runners-up.
York completed the parish double by adding the James Robertson KO after defeating Delta Force in the final.
York's Kemar Smith, a former national Under-17 striker, was adjudged the Major League's Most Valuable Player, while the Top Goalscorer prize went to Seaforth's Okello Webb with eight goals.