MAY PEN, Clarendon — Loud cheers filled the Stuart Hall Auditorium at Clarendon College on Thursday morning as the school community celebrated their football team’s victory in the 2023 Olivier Shield final, having defeated first-time Manning Cup champions Mona High School 4-0.
Students, teachers, administrative and ancillary staff were in a jubilant mood with their blue and yellow vuvuzelas as they showered the defending champions with adulation in an electrifying atmosphere.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be back-to-back champions, making our school proud, and also the students and the people of Chapelton, and also ourselves. We put in the hard work so we deserve it. Hats off to my managing staff and also my coaching staff,” said team Captain Malachi Douglas.
For central defensive midfielder Theon Cupee, he finished the season with some valuable lessons.
“I’ve learnt that football can bring love, unity, and bring strength as well. I’ve also learnt that when you fall, you don’t have to stay on the ground. You can get up and rise again. The principles I have learnt from football will impact a lot on my future to help me [in] anything that I do. I am going to continue playing football; that’s my dream,” said the Arsenal supporter.
While expressing excitement about the win, the team’s Vice-Captain Devonti Hodges also wanted to secure the Champions Cup, which they lost to 3-2 to Clarendon rivals Glenmuir High.
“It’s a great feeling. We won two trophies and that was a great feeling. But we didn’t accomplish our goals. We wanted all three titles, but it’s just life,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
He said their main aim was to win the daCosta Cup so they would have the Olivier Shield to secure as well.
“The boys were pumped up. Everybody was ready for that game. The daCosta Cup trophy brings two — the daCosta Cup and the Olivier Shield. So everybody’s mind was on the daCosta Cup to win that title so we can play another final, and we did it,” said Hodges, who also plays for Dunbeholden Football Club at the Premier League level.
Clarendon College Team Manager Richard Palmer described the club’s success as “sweet victory”.
“Winning six titles as a manager is an excellent thing. And winning the Olivier Shield four times with my coach is an excellent feeling, and defending it also…I have a lovely crop of youth. I often tell them that I am proud to be the manager of this team. Anybody would love to have a mini Barcelona; now I can say we are one,” he shared with deep joy.
For Lenworth Hyde, who has been coaching at the school since 2015, credits the team’s success to a collective effort.
“[It’s] just the hard work and sacrifice that we made as a unit — the coaching staff, everybody. And to get the players disciplined, to work with what we are saying and what we are doing. And to get them believe in our system — how we like the team to play.
These players learn a lot; they take it in and they worked pretty hard, so it’s a great feeling being here and getting the result that we are getting. It’s not a flash in the pan thing. It’s a thing that we’ve worked for and we instil it in the players and they buy into it. That’s why I think we are getting these good results,” he explained to the Observer.
Coach Hyde said he is now on a quest to secure overseas scholarships for his players.
“What we are focusing on is getting them scholarships. We have about six to seven of them now lining up colleges to leave to after this season,” he noted.
Principal David Wilson was also present to share in the festive atmosphere.
“We are feeling excited, elated, and happy for the young men, and happy for the school. Over the last couple of years, we’ve had a couple of challenges — tragedies — and as a school, it’s good to have feel-good moments, and this is one of them that has really buoyed the school into happiness,” he expressed.
He is grateful to his academic staff and alumni association for their continued support.
“Our teaching staff is very supportive. When you have young men who have to train three, four hours per day, you don’t expect them to function like a kid who is just having to go to class, do his work, eat, sleep; so we have to give them additional support. If it means giving work or sending work online, supporting outside of the regular class time, our staff has been doing that.
Our past students have been very supportive…They provide funds and kits for them to train,” he explained.
Despite the victories experienced by Clarendon College, the principal underscored that, “Nothing comes just like that. It has to be specifically determined that you are going to do it and then you put the work in. And our motto says we ‘persevere and excel’.”