Laurie Foster | What happens next season?
The 2017 ISSA/FLOW Olivier Shield competition has ended and Jamaica College has adduced substantial argument to confirm its claim to the pinnacle spot of local schoolboy football. Equipped with the tactical genius of the magical coach Miguel Coley, the boys from Old Hope Road outmanoeuvered Rusea's High 3-2 at the National Stadium on Saturday to give the trophy back to the school for the fifth year in succession.
There has been a persistent buzz informing that the Shield will be discontinued next year. If this is true, it is hoped that it will be retired and the Dark Blues will be allowed to take their habit of perennial winners into eternity. It would be a fitting tribute to the school, which has bossed the game for the stated period, and to coach Coley, who announced at the end of the encounter that he had accepted an offer to move on to greater heights. He will be joining the coaching ranks of Iranian side Esteghlal FC as they look to raise their profile and climb the Persian Gulf Pro League.
The Jamaica College fraternity is in debt to him for his outstanding performance in guiding the team throughout the brightest journey of its existence in terms of trophies won in the five years of his tenancy.
Even louder voices say that the sponsorship by FLOW, which gave rise to the Super Cup, has run its course of the intended four years. This is not good news as FLOW has injected a significant level of energy and excitement into this new competition. The crowds that flock to the matches played under its umbrella are true testimony to how the company's input has been received. It would be sad to see the disappearance of what we have become accustomed to over the period.
ALL IS NOT LOST
All does not seem to be lost, however, as FLOW, while not giving details, is hinting at a redirection of its funds. Foster's Fairplay extends congratulations to the company for considering football at this level worthy of its input. The wish is that they go further, while not deviating from their original thrust: to give support to the game at the schoolboy level.
The experience of Craig Butler and his young Phoenix Football Academy footballers is staring us stark in the face. It is only he who refuses to see that could claim ignorance to what Butler's charge Leon Bailey has already achieved. The German Bundesliga is arguably richer for his presence. There is no reason to believe that as time passes, more will not come from the Butler cradle of outstanding talent.
Jamaica is in need of this talent to proceed to the heights of which the country dreams, but without the proper support in terms of sponsorship, it could remain stagnant. A sponsor with vision should be encouraged to touch base with Butler and work out a strategy where the hierarchy of the country's football could come to its senses and avail itself of the talent that could fritter away to other nations that are recognising what we are ignoring.
It is a big ask of FLOW as they contemplate their future support of the game at the schoolboy level. Hopefully, it is not beyond them.
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