ST ANTHONY'S College, defending champions of the BWIA Secondary Schools Colleges Football League, open their 2000 campaign with a match against one of the most experienced teams in the league.
This is as the first match of the North Zone of the tournament kicks off at St Mary's College Ground, Serpentine Road, at 4 pm today.
The West Moorings team has lost some of their players, as do all school teams each year, but they still have the services of their influential captain and goalkeeper, Mikhail Germaine. Still there too are Steven Cruickshank, Julius James, Kenwyn Jones and promising reserve goalkeeper, Marcus Chinsammy.
Nigel Grosvenor, coach of the champs, is quietly optimistic of his team's chances of retaining their title. "It will not be easy. Everybody wants to defeat the champions and we will have a hard time, especially at the start of the season. We have lost seven of last year's starters and, while we have four of the under-17 national team, they are 16-year-olds up against bigger, more experienced players.
"We just have to be patient and overcome a nervous start. If we play and enjoy ourselves, the results will take care of themselves," he said.
St Mary's College's Martin Hayden, has a few of his last year's players, Nicholas Lee, Scott Sealey, Jeremy Delpino, Ryan and Rhett Abraham as well as two of the national under 17s, who have just passed their CXC and are in their first year sixth form.
"We will be using a 3-5-2 system but that is not cast in stone," says coach Hayden. "Our boys will give a good account of themselves."