Sport

Justin Morin — From schoolboy footballer to Digicel CEO

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior Staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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Justin Morin discussed how he balanced academics and sports while at St George's College, on his way to attaining a bachelor's degree in Industrial engineering and making his mark in the Middle East working at Saudi Telecom before returning to Jamaica. Here is Part Two of his compelling rise from schoolboy footballer to the top man at Digicel Jamaica.

From schoolboy footballer who played in the competition to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Digicel which now sponsors it, Justin Morin is filled with nothing but pride as he gives back to a system that made him who he is today.

“It feels incredible. When you're there as a player you never really see yourself in terms of what you would be like 20 years down the line; so to be in this position gives me a tremendous amount of pride,” said Morin.

“I know what it's like to be out there, training and being in front of the fans, and the pressures that come with it. I know that for the schoolboy competition to work it needs a lot of corporate support, so I am very proud to be in the position to throw this much-needed support behind these kids and the schools. It's a great feeling,” he added.

Having played on the St George's College champion team of 1992, Morin believes that unit is one of the best of all times but he also believes that the standard of play now is much higher than during his era.

“The standard is very good and very high, but I think there is a big disparity,” Morin noted.

“You have the great teams and when you see the quality there, it's really good at very high standard. You can tell coaching has gotten better, the players', the skill sets are better and you see the type of play and the tactics really coming out in the games,” he explained.

Morin continued: “Unfortunately we see a lot of teams who are on a very low level and there is a huge disparity between them; so you would get these 8-0, 10-0 type of matches and so one would only hope that, bringing these teams together, one would see the quality of those teams come up — and I am sure that it will.

“If I am to compare to when I played I guess I would be biased to my team, which I thought was a very skilful set of players, played really well together, and the fighting spirit was clearly evident. I can't say if it's a higher level now because of that bias, but you could definitely see the quality coming through,” said Morin.

Despite his obvious busy schedule as CEO, Morin, who played in defence for the “Light Blues”, has been able attend a few games live or on Digicel's PlayGo streaming app, and he believes his alma mater can end their five-year drought and return the Manning Cup to North Street.

“Actually, they look really good this year and I think they have a real good chance and Bertis (Neville Bell) certainly believes that as well, and I think it gonna be interesting once they come out of the zones. The boys need to step it up once they come out of the zones and I think they understand that, but they will have to kick into another gear if they want to take it home,” Morin emphasised.

“I have seen some of the other teams play and many teams started out nervous, but as the competition goes on you really see the stronger teams coming out,” he noted.

Morin, a short defender who had to be organised at the back during the 3-5-2 formation his coached deployed in school, is actually happy with what he has seen from the directors of the competition.

“I am really pleased with ISSA. You hear a lot of stories on the outside and I think they have done a really tremendous job, and we have to give them credit for elevating the entire competition; well organised,” Morin pointed out.

“They have incorporated their learnings every year and they just keep getting better and better in putting on the competition and getting sponsors. This year there is a conglomerate of sponsors, and it's finding our way and how we all work together for the success of the competition itself,” said Morin.

“In terms of visibility, the competition keeps growing and growing, and you look at the games and it just seems to be more and more people coming out to watch games.

“We have introduced the live streaming element and I think it's just going to grow more and more in popularity as we are able to really spread the game much wider to audiences here and audiences abroad,” he reiterated.

“So far I am really, really pleased and at the end of the season we will look at how we can continue to improve on it. There needs to be something definitely done about playing surfaces — some of the level of the lower schools and overall how we get the best out of all the boys and the schools in this competition. We will provide our feedback as sponsors to ISSA so that we can grow and improve together,” said Morin.

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