Out, but not down says Mona captain
DiAndre Folkes, the captain of Mona High Manning Cup football team, may be small in stature but what he lacks in height and physicality, he makes up for in ambition.
Folkes, who wears the number 10, is a hard player to dispossess of the ball when it is at his feet and he uses his speed to his advantage, especially against bigger opponents, much like his idol Lionel Messi of Barcelona.
Hailing from the lower income community of Tavern in St Andrew, Folkes hopes to rise above the hardships of his community - which include poverty, gang violence and murders; to achieve greatness someday. For Folkes, it is a struggle leaving his community on many days, especially when there is tension in the area because of gang feuds or increased police presence. However, he makes his way to the Mona Road-based institution because he knows that if he is to ever make a better life for himself, it starts with both his education and opportunities he can gain from playing schoolboy football.
"Football is my way out. It's my way of life," Folkes said. "It's very difficult because of the surroundings. It's not a nice place (Tavern). We have to get up early in the morning and come to school and do well every day. The bad things happening in my community motivate me. The things happening in Jamaica, we can use that as a motivation to take us (himself and his teammates) further."
Folkes' dream of success this season came to an end when Mona finished fourth in Group B of the ISSA-FLOW Manning Cup behind group winners and former champions St Andrew Technical, defending champions Jamaica College and Bridgeport High, also former champions. However, he accepts that he has a role to play in finding positives in the team's performance this season and motivating his teammates to do better next year.
"We were not performing so well, but we can still go back and correct our mistakes and come back stronger," he said.