Three the hard way - Sandals South Coast wants to join Reno, MoBay in Premier League

June 06, 2017
In this file photo, Sandals Whitehouse FC players celebrate winning the Captain's Bakery & Grill Westmoreland Major League football title in 2013. At right is head coach Aaron Lawrence.
Everton Tomlinson

The last time western Jamaica had three teams in the country's top flight football competition was the 2011-2012 season.

Then, Reno FC of Westmoreland and Invaders and Village United, both from Trelawny, were the representatives.

With the subsequent relegation and the rise to dominance of teams from other confederations, the once powerful region in footballing terms was left with only Montego Bay United, and at times Reno, to cheer for.

Now, Aaron Lawrence and his band of ballers from Sandals South Coast (formerly Sandals Whitehouse) are on a mission increase the number of premier league teams out of western Jamaica to three.

Sandals will this Sunday tackle St Ann-based Priory FC in the first Jamaica Football Federation Premier League play-off.

Kingston and St Andrew Football Association Super League champions Cavalier and South Central Confederation winners Rivoli United are the other teams in the play-off.

Two teams will advance to the premier league, which has Montego Bay United and Reno as western Jamaica outfits.

"I think it would be great to have another team from the west," Lawrence told WESTERN STAR yesterday.

The former national goalkeeper said the people in western Jamaica have been dreaming about the possibility of having three or four teams in the nation's top league.

That day, he believes, is not far away.

"We used to be dominant and be in control of Jamaica's football and I think the western side of Jamaica has a lot of quality," Lawrence said.

Everton Tomlinson, president of the Westmoreland Football Association, told WESTERN STAR that he is looking forward to the prospect of having three teams, two of which could come from Westmoreland.

"It would be a big plus to have Sandals in the Premier League," said the Westmoreland football boss.


Shortage of talent


The parish of Westmoreland has never had more than one team in the premier league in the same season.

Reno has been the face of the parish which has also been represented by Savannah and Westland.

Meanwhile, Lawrence is convinced that there is no shortage of talent in western Jamaica.

"It is just the opportunity that the youngsters need," he said while adding that his team will draw players from a talented pool of Under-18 boys in Westmoreland should they reach the premier league.

But before Lawrence and his team can get there, they must perform consistently in the play-offs.

"We are looking forward to the play-offs first. You can't look ahead to where you haven't yet reached. The play-off starts this weekend. This is not to say we are not thinking about the premier league and are putting plans and things in place for that, but for that, our focus is to get that first of second spot," he said.

He told WESTERN STAR that the players are in a good mood ahead of Sunday's game.

"We want to give western Jamaica something to look forward to, apart from Reno and Montego Bay United. We want to give them another option where they can come out and celebrate with us when we win games," Lawrence said.

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