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Con­grat­u­la­tions to Na­pari­ma Col­lege on win­ning the 2019 Sec­ondary Schools Foot­ball League for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year. Not on­ly have they won back to back ti­tles but, yet again, they have played un­beat­en through­out the sea­son. They are un­doubt­ed­ly the best school team in the league and thor­ough­ly de­serve to be cham­pi­ons. This year, it again came down to the last round of games and it was a straight fight be­tween them­selves and Pre­sen­ta­tion Col­lege of San Fer­nan­do.

Un­like last year when they need­ed help from San Juan North Sec­ondary to pip Pres, this year it was en­tire­ly in their own hands as all they need­ed against an in­con­sis­tent QRC team was one point. They em­phat­i­cal­ly de­feat­ed the Roy­alians 4-0 to be­gin the cel­e­bra­tions in front of their en­thu­si­as­tic trav­el­ling sup­port­ers.

In­ter­est­ing­ly, I was asked, “Is Naps too strong for this league?” In one word, no. When you look at their re­sults, they drew three games and won five by the odd goal. They de­feat­ed both rel­e­gat­ed teams 3-0 and 3-1, so the re­sults point to the fact that they had to work hard for some of their vic­to­ries. Where this Na­pari­ma team is strong is in their work rate and their men­tal ap­proach. They fight for each oth­er as a team and don't set­tle for a draw-they are al­ways search­ing for a win­ner and mount­ing re­lent­less pres­sure on teams that were vis­i­bly hap­py with a point. Even when they go be­hind they al­ways re­lent­less­ly be­lieve that they can turn the game around. Yes, they do pos­sess some skil­ful play­ers, but so do some oth­er schools how­ev­er Naps has de­vel­oped what none of the oth­er schools seems to have: that do or die at­ti­tude.

Pres fin­ished as the brides­maid for the sec­ond year; this time five points be­hind the cham­pi­ons. They are a tal­ent­ed team with some crafty in­di­vid­u­als but they are not as men­tal­ly tough as Naps. Un­til they get over the big hur­dle of de­feat­ing Na­pari­ma, they will al­ways seem to be a step be­hind their fiercest south­ern ri­vals.

St An­tho­ny's Col­lege led the north­ern charge but must start to win the big games. They can com­fort­ably win against the schools in the bot­tom half of the league but when they come up against the top six, they ei­ther draw or lose and that, un­for­tu­nate­ly, is where it counts most. They are as tal­ent­ed as the top two schools but they must close­ly ex­am­ine why they don't get over the line when the tal­ent is cer­tain­ly there.

East Mu­cu­rapo Sec­ondary sur­prised me this year. They are a good team and work hard. They led Na­pari­ma 2-0 but just couldn't hold on to record a fa­mous vic­to­ry. They should im­prove next year if they do not lose their qual­i­ty play­ers.

An­oth­er sur­prise was Cara­pichaima East Sec­ondary who played well through­out the sea­son and apart from the 5-0 drub­bing they re­ceived from the cham­pi­ons, they would be hap­py with their per­for­mances over the sea­son. I liked their style; their run­ning off the ball was good and their mid­field is cre­ative.

San Juan North Sec­ondary was a huge dis­ap­point­ment. They seem to on­ly mo­ti­vate them­selves when they play the top two. Los­ing six games for this tal­ent­ed team is un­ac­cept­able and the en­tire staff has to take a long, hard look at what went wrong and put it right for the In­ter­col.

Two col­leges - St Bene­dict's and QRC were up and down for most of the sea­son. They would play one good game and then be out­played in the next. They are not as tal­ent­ed as the top six, how­ev­er, what you lack in abil­i­ty you make up for with fight and dis­ci­pline. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, I did not see ei­ther of those qual­i­ties in Bene­dict's or QRC.

St Au­gus­tine Sec­ondary is a shad­ow of the 'Green Ma­chine'. They need to relook at their foot­ball de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme and get back to the ba­sics be­cause they have a great lega­cy in school foot­ball but at present, they seem to be very stag­nant.

I was dis­ap­point­ed with Trin­i­ty Col­lege East. I thought this sea­son they would have kicked on from last year and im­proved but they looked dis­joint­ed and in­con­sis­tent. I re­main con­fi­dent that they will get back on track and be bet­ter next sea­son.

Pleas­antville and Mal­ick Sec­ondary were back in the big league this year and both have some skil­ful play­ers but, they need­ed to play as a team and on­ly when they did that they got re­sults. Pleas­antville drew with Naps and Mal­ick drew with Pres but both of them lost 8 games, how is that pos­si­ble? Do they show more fight when they play the top 2 teams? If so, it must be a wor­ry­ing stat for their tech­ni­cal staff.

Spey­side High School just avoid­ed rel­e­ga­tion and con­ced­ed 42 goals but on­ly 1 against Na­pari­ma - how do you analyse a per­for­mance like that? I am just hap­py a To­ba­go school has stayed in the top flight.

Trin­i­ty Col­lege Mo­ka and St Mary's Col­lege were abysmal. It may be a bless­ing in dis­guise for them to go down to the cham­pi­onship and re­build. Let us hope that when ei­ther one re­turns to the pre­mier­ship that they will be far bet­ter pre­pared.

The fol­low­ing is my all-star team based on the per­for­mances I have seen for 2019.

GK: Em­manuel John - San Juan North

De­fend­ers: Randy An­toine (St An­tho­ny's), Jor­dan Bar­clay (St An­tho­ny's) ,Tyrike An­drews (Na­pari­ma), Ka­reem John (San Juan North)

Mid­field­ers: Isa Bram­ble (Na­pari­ma), Aleem Bar­clay (Capt) (Pre­sen­ta­tion), Josi­ah King (Cara­pichaima), Jaiye Shep­pard (Pre­sen­ta­tion)

For­wards: Seon Ship­p­ley (Na­pari­ma), Akeem Ma­son (St Bene­dict's)

To pick 11 from over 175 play­ers is nev­er easy but for me those were the stand­outs. It's now on to the In­ter­col so good luck to all schools!


SOURCE: T&T Guardian