Shiva Boys coach Hayden Ryan has thanked God for his team’s successful campaign in the Coca-Cola National Intercol competition – especially since the school faced two major obstacles in the 2017 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL).
Midway during the SSFL Premier Division season, Shiva Boys, the 2016 Premier Division winners, lost the use of their home ground at Lachoos Road in Penal due to security issues.
And with a handful of Premier Division games remaining, the SSFL docked 17 points from Shiva Boys – a decision which saw them relegated from the top flight – due to the school’s illegal registration of midfielder Kierron Mason and defender Matthew Beal.
But Shiva Boys proved their worth when it mattered most, as they whipped 2016 National Intercol champions San Juan North 2-0 in Monday’s Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Ryan, in an interview yesterday, said, “I give God all the glory. I owe it all to Him.”
The Shiva Boys coach is hopeful the team can continue their impressive showing into the 2018 season, as the majority of the 2017 squad is expected to remain.
“We have about three or four players (who) have reached the end of their rope with the school, but we already have replacements,” said Ryan. “We’re becoming a community team – that’s the key. This is why I want to publicly also thank the supporters who stuck behind us, who cooked food before every match, who prepared refreshments, they’re with the team.”
National midfielders Levi and Nathaniel Garcia are former Shiva Boys stand-outs, while their 17-year-old brother Judah is the captain of the 2017 outfit.
Ryan hailed the support of the brothers, as well as past students, during this year’s season. “This has become a family. We have a whole bunch of (past) players who were monitoring the scene and sending this and sending that. This is a well-backed team by past players. It’s not just calling to congratulate but they’re involved all the way.”
He indicated that the 2017 Intercol success was one of the team’s goals this season (the other was to retain their Premier Division trophy). “(The SSFL) took away our points,” said Ryan.
The Shiva Boys coach is still disturbed over how things transpired during the Premier Division season. “I don’t understand how, in the middle of a tournament, you come to take away a team’s home ground and talking about people fearing for their lives,” Ryan said.
“They never came down and watch a match and see the environment down (here),” the Shiva Boys coach continued. “It’s a community team. So I don’t know how they arrived to this view.” Ryan was impressed by the display of his team in Monday’s final, particularly the adjustments they made during the half-time interval to take control of proceedings.
“Half-time is to fix stuff,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that everything will be going well but we can fix it. We made a couple changes and it did work. As the game (went) along, we were getting stronger and taking more control of the match. In the second half we were the far better team.”
Originally published in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday