Tafari Burton has dedicated the Ben Francis Cup to the people and community of Frankfield where his school Edwin Allen High is located.
Burton guided his alma mater to their first-ever senior schoolboy football title with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over many-time champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) at the STETHS Sports Complex in an epic football final last Friday.
STETHS were going for their seventh hold on the trophy and Head Coach Omar Wedderburn had made it clear that they wanted the win ahead of the start of the game.
When the hosts took the lead fairly early in the first half, through Negus Daley, it seemed that Edwin Allen might have had to settle for second best, but things turned around for Edwin Allen early in the second half when Alwayen Bryan grabbed the equaliser two minutes after the restart.
After that it became the Jahiem Harris show. His 63rd-minute strike gave Edwin Allen the go-ahead goal before he grabbed the game winner with a super-special strike in the 89th minute, after Davin Wright had levelled the game for STETHS at 2-2 in the 85th minute.
Burton struggled to describe the feeling of winning the trophy for the school that he represented as a boy.
“As a coach, I know many coaches would want a moment like this for themselves, so I have to glorify to the highest level.
“I had no idea the feeling would be so great. I can't explain it. The community of Frankfield, I dedicate this to them,” he said.
He explained that the challenges faced during the season by his team made the victory even sweeter.
“Most of all, I have to say…I have never been in a season where I met so many challenges, and to see us come through with a trophy it has to be a good feeling.
“There were moments when we thought that was it. There were moments when the season looked unsure. After the Christmas break the training wasn't the way we wanted it, but the boys fought and we got ourselves to this point and a trophy that we wanted from day one, plus others.
“The others didn't come, but one is better than none!” he said.
Being down at the half-time break was hard for Burton but he challenged his boys to rise to the occasion and that they did.
“Give credit to STETHS, but at half-time I let them know that nothing is wrong with losing, but I would rather lose a final against a team that I know beat me and is better than me.
“But the first half that I saw, I wasn't seeing a team that was better than Edwin Allen. I was seeing some boys that I know if I challenged…I know we could beat them.
“I said to them, why come so far, just to come so far? That's what I said to them at half time,” he revealed.
Jahiem Harris was man-of-the-match in the final, but he also had a big impact in the semi-final, creating one goal and scoring another.
“His attitude at the training session before the Manchester High game was different for the better. I didn't say it to him, but a coach can recognise when someone is hungry, hungry for a win, I saw that in Jaheim,” Burton said of his star player.
“He applied himself in the Manchester High game and (Friday) he came through in the second half and showed his true quality.”
That semi-final game against Manchester High, who is coached by Vassell Reynolds, was the most pivotal game in the coaching career of Burton.
“The semi-final win was a very emotional win for me, because my first daCosta Cup coach, when I was a player, was Vassell Reynolds.
“After the win it was very emotional for both of us and the greatest thing about that was that throughout my coaching career, he has always supported me. I was even more confident (Friday) for the win because when a son beats his father, he has to be more confident to beat anybody else,” said a delighted Burton.
This Ben Francis Cup win now puts the boys on the map at a school where the girls dominate the headlines when it comes on to sports.