Sat, Apr

Mucurapo East’s goal scorer Malachi Celestine (#23) has his jersey pulled by Malick’s Zion Carpet during the North Zone quaterfinal between East Mucurapo Secondary and Malick Secondary at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Head coach: ‘I feel great’

AFTER more than a decade, Malick Secondary School will return to the Premier Division of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) and head coach Anthony Bartholomew says they are “ready to work hard.”

Bartholomew began coaching the team in 2016. Speaking with Newsday yesterday afternoon, he said returning them to the premiership was his top priority from day one.

He said, “I feel good–I feel great, with emphasis on where we came from to where we are now. We always said we will make it back and we have three years to do it and it will happen. That’s the faith we were pushing all the time.”

He said despite Malick being a “small school,” he believes they can achieve a lot. He described the team’s growth over the past three years as “tremendous” and “excellent.” He said training has been going well, and while he knows the journey will be difficult, the team will be focusing on maintaining a high spot in the table.

While they were the champions of the 2018 North Zone Championship Division, they are better known for their dominance in SSFL during the 1980s and 1990s. Several national players attended the school, including current national senior team coach Dennis Lawrence, Devorn Jorsling, Arnold Dwarika, Brent Sancho, Kerwin “Hardest” Jemmot, Gary Glasgow and Densill Theobald.

Theobald told Newsday he believes it is a great accomplishment for both the school and the community of San Juan.

“Besides the performance of the team, we have to give coach Anthony Bartholomew a lot of respect and admiration because of what he did. I would just love for him to succeed this coming season and to let people know the incredible work and job he has been doing–not only this season but for the past three years.”

He said Bartholomew has been the main person assisting with raising funds for the team, which he finds commendable. The school’s most recent fundraiser was on August 3 which was a match between its past all-star team and the current team.

Theobald said, “My heart goes out to him and I really wish him and the team all the success. I know it’s going to be difficult but I believe they have what it takes. Once the boys believe in themselves, they could really do some miracles this season.”

Malick is one of three teams promoted to the premiership last year, alongside Pleasantville Secondary School and Speyside High School from Tobago.

Speyside head coach Kerry Lynch, who has been coaching since 2009, told Newsday, “I am very proud, of course, of the achievement but I am looking forward to hard work for the season coming up.”

This will be the school’s third appearance in the premiership. They previously competed in 2016 and 2017.

Pleasantville will be returning after three years. They were demoted to the Championship Division in 2016 after finishing 14th in the premiership. Head coach Kyle Small told Newsday the team is ready.

Small said, “It was a great feeling for me, knowing the struggles we went through for the past few years. I think the boys worked hard and they played (according) to plan.

“The training has been good so far; it was going as scheduled. The numbers are good. It have a bit of competitiveness in the camp seeing that we getting boys challenging for positions and not being laid back and thinking that their position is secured.”

The Pleasantville girls team also had a successful 2018 season as they won the South Zone and National Intercol competitions, and the SSFL Big Five.

The teams demoted last season were Valencia Secondary School, Fatima College and Bishop’s High School Tobago.

The 2019 season was officially launched Tuesday morning in Port of Spain. It kicks off on Saturday when Presentation College, San Fernando face the 2018 champions Naparima College in the Digicel Cup at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.