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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

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LUCEA, Hanover — Winning the 2017 ISSA/FLOW daCosta Cup schoolboy football title is his biggest achievement as a coach Vassell Reynolds admitted yesterday as his team Rusea's High, celebrated on their campus in Lucea, Hanover.

Last Saturday night, at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, Reynolds created history by being the first coach with no previous links to the school or the parish to lead Rusea's High to a schoolboys' football title as they came from a goal down at half-time to beat favourites Clarendon College 2-1 and added an 11th lien on the trophy — symbol of rural area schoolboy football supremacy.

Emerson “Diggy” Henry and Anthony “Follies” Williams, both from Hanover and both former players, had combined to help Rusea's High win their previous 10 titles between 1984 and 2011.

“It's a great feeling, and to emulate what “Diggy” and “Follies” have done, it's a magnificent feat by them to win 10 titles, and I would be able to add to that, words can't express how I feel,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Reynolds has had a good last three seasons as he led Wolmers' Boys' School to the Walker Cup knockout title in the 2015 season and the FLOW Super Cup last year, but says winning the most important rural area trophy, tops that.

“As a coach, this would have been my best achievement,” he conceded. “Last year it was the FLOW Cup, and Walker Cup the year before, but after being at Rusea's just seven months now, and to have fitted in so quickly, thanks to my assistant Dwayne Ambusley, a former Rusea's player who I took on board and when you take everything into consideration, it is great.”

Reynolds and Ambusley were missing for a long time after the final whistle and he told the Observer he made it a priority to thank those who were responsible for putting him in the position to win.

“The emotions took over and I really wanted to celebrate with the principal and his two lieutenants, the two vice-principals, as they along with the entire school and fans. I can't thank them enough, they really welcomed me, including the fans who were there with us every step of the way. I really wanted to make sure that I thanked them.”

Reynolds said the realisation of what they had achieved was slowing sinking in. “Yes, it's finally getting there,” he told the Jamaica Observer. “I didn't get any sleep after the final on Saturday. I am normally an early person, but had problems getting out of the bed this morning, then I had to pinch myself and remind myself that I am now a part of a legacy, 'you are now a champion', and that gave me the extra energy, so yes it is getting there.”

The early success at Rusea's High, he said, could “pave the way and will motivate us, the staff, and the players returning next year, and others who will aspire to join us. One of the things we spoke about to the principal and management staff is to continue to build on this legacy and continue to make Rusea's a powerhouse, even if we don't win a title we must compete every season, but we do want to win titles, but also to help develop players.”

He is well aware that, despite the celebrations over the past few days, there was work left to be done, and they have yet another must-win game on Saturday against Manning Cup champions Jamaica College (JC) in Kingston.

“We will continue to enjoy today, but it's back to the training ground (Tuesday); for the past two weeks it has been about getting the minds in place and refocus and regroup and continue mental preparation that we have been doing.

“For the past 10 years, no daCosta Cup team has won the Olivier Shield, and we want to break that jinx, we know it's going to be difficult against a tough JC team that has done well over the past five to six seasons, but we will do our best to get ready for this,” he said.

— Paul Reid