St Anthony’s College coach Nigel Grosvenor said his team’s aim is to be crowned the first premiership champion despite a lot of new faces in his line-up. ‘’We are coming to play hard and to win, we’re not going to roll over and say our players are young so we don’t have that expectation,’’ said Grosvenor, adding that it is the ‘Tigers’ intent to reign supreme.
‘’We have had a lot of changes due to losing nine or ten players from last season’s starting line-up, so the team is a very young one and this is going to be a rebuilding year for us. Hopefully, we are going to be competitive.’’
Grosvenor said his young charges have been hard at training during the pre-season and they benefitted from two one-week camps, with the last one in Tobago used for bonding and camaraderie. He said the ‘Tigers’ are a disciplined team with some measure of experience but it’s difficult to predict how they will perform at this point, adding that captain Mwasi Charles is earmarked to make an impact.
Also possessing lofty aspirations is Naparima College coach Angus Eve, who is confident that whoever wins the Premiership Division of the Secondary Schools Football League, have his team to beat.
‘’We lost influential national youth player Barry Humphreys from what was primarily an Under-16 team last season and we currently have a little issue where five of our players including captain Martieon Watson, Nicholas Dillon and Gerard Dass are with the national Under-20 team and another four are on tour with W Connection.
‘’So we have to count them as losses because the season is only one round so by the time they return we would have played about five or six matches already and could either be winning or losing.’’ Eve said the team did its pre-season warm-ups in Tobago where they had creditable performances against bigger and stiffer opposition.
“We suffered losses to Stokely Vale and Phoenix FC by 2-1 and 4-2 margins, respectively, while we drew with Bethel and defeated St Clair Coaching School 4-2.
“I believe in the work we’ve done with the group that we have, I believe in the boys and I think that anybody who comes up against us will have a very tough game.’’
At Fatima College, coach Richard Hood said that while survival in the Premiership is the main aim of Fatima College, he hasn’t ruled out winning a few titles. “The loss of two of last season’s full backs, including stopper Leland Archer was covered by the drafting of defenders Adrian Constantine and Mosiah Griffith from Queen’s Royal College (QRC).
“They have fitted into the team and our system really nicely so I think we’ll be fine.’’ Hood said it’s difficult to make any predictions due to a lack of pre-season matches and a certain degree of unfamiliarity with some of the teams.
“First and foremost, we would want to ensure that we survive in the Premiership, however, I think we have enough quality in the squad to do well,’’ Hood said. “We have Shiva Boy’s and I know absolutely nothing about them at all so we’ll have to play it ear by ear.’’
Meanwhile, the Central Zonie is represented by familiar rivals Carapichaima East Secondary and Chaguanas North Secondary who meet today.
Carapichaima East Secondary has a new coach in Kevin Jeffrey, who makes his debut as a schoolboy football coach. Jeffrey has played for the T&T national U-23 team, four semi-professional teams in the US, and also for North East Stars in the local professional league. Jeffrey admits that Carapichaima’s preparation has not been the greatest, yet he still looks for a top six finish. He has lost top-scorer Simon Joseph to St Anthony’s College and several potential top players, some of whom did not get favourable enough exams results to keep them in the school.
‘’The squad is not as strong as we would have originally hoped for but, nevertheless, we plan to give a good account of ourselves,’’ Jeffrey said. “We have a young squad and in terms of preparing for the future, that is what we plan to do. We plan to be a solid team.’’
Their rivals Chaguanas North Secondary have lost key player Deon O’garro to a full scholarship at Wiley College in Texas, USA. Coach Nicholas Griffith is confident his players can step up. Led by captain Jesse Frank, Chaguanas won the Central Zone league and InterCol and will lead again this year.
Also returning to the line-up are utility player Malik Campbell, attacking midfielder Cassim Kellar and stopper Chad Paul. With a few ‘development games’ under their belts, the coach sees a lot of promise in the youngsters who will make up the rest of the squad.
In the East, San Juan North Secondary has an old boy as its head-coach in Jerry Moe, who is also coached professional club Caledonia AIA. Moe has a young squad with a lot of guys now going from form four to form five. A lot of key guys from last season did not get back in the school because of bad exam results.
‘’Its a work in progress right now. The biggest challenge is coming up against guys older that us because their are some teams with guys in upper six,’’ Moe declared. “The biggest challenge is getting them to play as a team. They have the talent, but they don’t work as a team.’’
Moe expects to take a couple of games before his team gel as a unit, as oppose to being ready from the first match.
Moe, a former national youth player, has also decided to give back to the game by assisting his former school. “When I was growing up it had good coaches in the schools. Alvin Corneal was coaching Fatima, Jimmy Blanc was in St Mary’s, you had Bertille St Clair in Tobago and Edgar Vidale in South. So, you get a good education in your football.“Even though these guys were coaching the national team they were still giving back to the schools. That was one of the main motivation for me going back in the school system.’’
Trinity College East have set their sights high this season and have brought in a few players who could possible take them to their goal. Their coach Adrian Romain, one of the youngest coaches in the Secondary Schools Football League Premier Division, believes he has brought together a talented and experienced group of players and wants to finish in the top six at the end of the campaign.
Arima North Secondary placed third in the SSFL East Zone last year and were InterCol quarter finalists. They will have some of last season’s players back for 2014, but will also have a number of new players. They started their preparations in July and all the players are excited about the new format which will see the best teams in the country do battle in one league.
“It is the top teams and it is a national tournament. We are expecting a tough season,’’ said a spokesperson for the team.
3.45 p.m.- Trinity College East v St. Anthony’s, Trincity
3.45 p.m. - Carapichaima East v Chaguanas North, Carapichaima
3 p.m. - Presentation San F’do v Arima North, Guaracara Park
5 p.m. - Shiva Boys H.C. v Fatima College, Guaracara Park
3.45 p.m. - San Juan North v Naparima College, San Juan
CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION: (Tobago Zone)
3 p.m. - Bishop’s High v Speyside, Shaw Park
5 p.m. - Scarborough v Signal Hill, Shaw Park
3.45 p.m. - Pentecostal L&L v Goodwood, Signal Hill
(Wednesday, Sept. 10)
3.45 p.m. - Speyside v Roxborough, Speyside
3.45 p.m. - Goodwood v Bishop’s High, Goodwood
3.45 p.m. - Signal Hill v Pentecostal L&L, Signal