Ari Rodgers eager to play Manning Cup
Kingston College's experienced football coach, Ludlow Bernard, has not only likened the school's long-and middle-distance runner, Arymanya (Ari) Rodgers to former national striker Paul 'Tegat' Davis, but believes the young Ugandan has what it takes to help KC win their first Manning Cup title in 32 years.
Rodgers is currently training with the 'Purples' Manning Cup squad, along with cousin, Akuwaste Crispus, and Bernard said Rodgers possesses some unusual qualities, usually found in the centre forwards of the 1970s and '80s.
However, for Rodgers to represent the school in football, he will need permission from principal Dave Myrie. However, despite the football management's argument that many athletes have done both football and track and field in the past, the school board believes he is an investment which must be protected.
"There have been athletes in the past who have played football and ran," Bernard told STAR Sports. "However, in his case, the powers that be would figure that quite a lot has been invested in him and for that reason they would want to protect their investment. They believe he is very critical to the athletics team. But he is very serious about playing (Manning Cup), and he keeps telling me 'Coach, I want to play, talk to so and so.'
"He is like those classic forwards from long ago. He picks defenders' pockets, he's very quick, very direct, very intelligent in his off-the-ball movement. He's a joy for any midfielder to play with. He appears from nowhere, gets in between defenders and is on the end of things. He has skill and he is looking forward to play.
"He is always at training," Bernard said. "He wants to be a part of it (team), and he is determined to get his way from the authorities and the powers that be, to represent Kingston College. He believes that football and athletics will put him in a better position to get a scholarship."
Although Rodgers has not played any practice games, he is usually on the B team in training, and Bernard said he is a handful for his main defenders. "They always have to be aware of where he is. He can be deceiving because of his size, but he's an unknown quantity and the skills he possesses are unlike what we have in the league right now," he reasoned.
Bernard also thinks highly of Crispus, a 15-year-old midfielder who can also play at centre forward. Bernard believes he is a good player but will take time to acclimatise.
"He is part of the squad and should feature in a few games this year, but next year should be his break-out year. He is still taking time to get a grasp of the culture and our talking, unlike Ari, who has acclimatised. But he is a good player. Both are highly respected by the group and we should get good contribution to the team going forward," he added.