Mona High plans football dominance with or without Butler
MONA High School Principal Keven Jones says he’s determined to establish a dynasty in Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) football — whether or not Craig Butler remains involved with the school’s programme.
The boys from Mona Road created history earlier this month by defeating Hydel High to win their first-ever Under-19 urban area football title.
Technical Director and Head Coach Craig Butler, who guided them to the feat during only three years in charge, told the Jamaica Observer that 2023 was his last year coaching schoolboy football. He cited that his focus will be on being manager/agent for the likes of Reggae Boyz players Leon Bailey and Dujuan “Whisper” Richards.
Mona’s top players, like Captain Akeem Bernard, Robino Gordon and Dante Peralto, are also expected to move on.
And despite not having received official confirmation of Butler’s departure, Jones voiced his commitment to ensuring Mona can carry on their success. He assured that he would take the necessary measures to make this happen.
“Every coach comes with a slightly different programme, maybe the same objective in wanting to win Manning Cup, but they have different coaching skills, different ways how to inspire students. When you look behind the scenes as to what goes into football, for example, we have a dorm where we put the boys in — you need money to run the programme; you have to buy gear, medicine; and feed the boys breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
“We have that sort of resources to get it going so if Craig should leave then I will be on the hunt looking for a coach who is as good or better than him in order to get it running because, come next year, we will have to defend the Manning Cup and we know that teams will be coming at us. We have what it takes to defend it. I see Mona defending the Manning Cup for the next three years because we have the talent to do so,” Jones told the Observer.
Mona were humbled 0-4 by Clarendon College in the Olivier Shield play-off between the urban and rural champions but Jones says that the outcome held little significance for him and the school in the long term.
“It was a very good season and we have nothing to be disappointed about. It’s our first time and I told the boys, ‘You played more than 25 games to win the Manning Cup [but] you just play one game for Olivier Shield and you dropped out and CC won it.’ It’s not a big deal; nobody remembers who wins the Olivier Shield [but] people remember who wins the Manning Cup and the daCosta Cup — and for us that’s what counts. So again I say, Mona Pride, One Mona,” he claimed.
But football won’t be the only priority for Mona going forward as Jones targets an improvement in the school’s standings in the Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships. The school gathered only two points in the 2023 edition of Champs.
“[Currently] we’re focusing on netball, football and School’s Challenge Quiz [but] we have track and field; we have a programme now and we’re building so we hope to really reap some results within the next two, three years. So, it’s going to take some time because [the] track and field programme is a very big thing and it takes a lot of money so we’re patient and we will reach there in time,” he said.