Shiva Boys Hindu College could be set for more glory as the Coca-Cola InterCol competition kicks off this week.
The newly-crowned Shell/First Citizens Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) champions are flying at the moment, as one would expect for a team that won their maiden national title eight days ago.
Fans at Clarke Road Penal could be excused for feeling a sense of superiority over their rivals as their team were as dominant as they were consistent this year - the stats speak for themselves.
Shiva scored the second most goals in the Premier Division with 35, in a run that included 12 wins one draw and one defeat. Junior Asson’s 11 goals were good enough from him to sit second in the list of league top-scorers after Naparima College’s Isaiah Lee.
The team may have capped off a steady rise to the top over the last two seasons, but coach Hayden Ryan was quick to bring things into perspective when he spoke to the Sunday Express on Friday.
“It’s a team effort,” he said. “It’s a collective effort. We have defenders, we have possessors of the ball and we have creators and goal-scorers; there’s no way one could go without the other because as simple as you look at it, if your midfield is possessing the ball correctly, then it takes the pressure off of the defence.”
Ryan identified the team’s philosophy as their winning formula, something that they have kept from last season where they finished in the top five of the Premier Division and narrowly missed out on the South InterCol final.
“I think the approach was the same,” he said. “The team last year was an Under-17 team... when it comes to philosophy, it takes a little while to really get going.
“We had the time this season to work it in, and the results are there to show.”
With respect to the overall weakening of other title contenders due to the national Under-17 and Under-20 duty this season, Ryan had to praise his players for their consistency.
“You have to do without when you have to do without,” he said. “I have to thank these guys for working so hard, putting their hearts into this thing. No one could say Judah (Garcia) is a main player in the team, he is not there and we still won without him. I was prepared to play without Judah (from the beginning).”
With the South Zone InterCol preliminary round looming on the horizon, both “Naps” and Presentation College San Fernando could be in store for Shiva. But the confidence gained from landing the League title could now make Ryan’s charges favourites to do the double.
“Nothing has changed for us. We enjoy the (league) championship, now we’re back at it again,” he said. “The guys have a week off and they’re coming back on and hoping that we can gel and get the same result.”
The Shiva ideology is once the principle is right, then the titles will come.
But for now, the Penal community is savouring the historic success of Ryan and his boys.
“Words are not enough to describe how the school, the community, the parents feel,” he said.
“It’s just a joy.”