NAPARIMA College will be looking to add to an already exceptional Secondary Schools Football League season which has seen them claim two titles, when they face St Anthony's on Friday in the semi-finals of the Coca Cola National Intercol competition at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
After completing the Shell/First Citizens Bank-sponsored Premier Division undefeated, Naps went on to capture the south zone Intercol title on Monday to position themselves in the running for the prestigious treble.
Naparima's captain and goalkeeper, Levi Fernandez, speaking to Newsday after their victory over arch-rivals Presentation College San Fernando, said their opponents were extremely tough to crack.
"Coming into the Intercol, we knew it would be a different ball game as the atmosphere and surroundings changed because it is a knockout fixture. I think both teams really came out here and gave it a fight because of the nature of the rivalry between both schools, but when it comes down to penalties, both sides have a fifty-fifty per cent chance of advancing, and we were blessed to come out with the winning result," he said.
It was not the first time Naps dented Presentation's title hopes for the season, as they blocked their rivals from lifting the league trophy on the last day, while 'Pres' were held to a 1-1 draw by San Juan North Secondary.
Fernandez said his team is fiercely determined and keen to achieve their goals.'
"First of all, in the league we had a downfall in the middle of the season when nobody thought we were able to win it again as it was out of our grasp, but as a team, we kept working and striving where in the end we came out victorious and we thank God for that," he said.
Naparima's Principal, Dr Michael Rawle Dowlath, was very pleased with his student footballers and praised the entire team.
He said, "We would like to congratulate the coach, management and players as they stuck to the tasks at hand and showed their character, perseverance and determination to win us these titles thus far. We are proud of every single one of them."
Dowlath discussed the efforts behind the scenes to reap success, saying, "This takes years of development, as these boys started early throughout the system with the goal of making the school proud, and the coaches are well equipped to help nurture the young, raw talent which these guys possess."
He also reminded the students that these memories should be taken with them in the future as it contributes towards helping build school pride and serves as a motivator for all other students.
Also speaking was former national footballer and Naps' assistant coach, Clayton Ince, who said: "The players are seeing the results of a really tough preseason and these are the effects of hard work." He continued, "Both the league and the south Intercol titles went straight down to the wire and this shows you the standard of the football within these youngsters and the focus they can have when they desire to achieve great things."
Looking into the future, Ince said, "We try to take each match as it comes, game by game, and right now they are still in glee over the victory and they deserve this time to celebrate. We, as part of the technical team, have to now get them back down to earth in time for our next fixture."