STATHS ruing Manning Cup cancellation
St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) Manning Cup coach, Philip Williams, says that had the 2020 ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup season not been cancelled, it would have been their year to win the trophy.
STATHS have won the Corporate Area title only once in 1987, but after contesting two of the last three finals and retaining the bulk of last season's squad that lost in the final to Jamaica College on penalties, Williams is convinced they would have gone all the way this year.
"From 2017, we have the belief that each year it would be our year and we have come close two times in that period," Williams said. "Most of the players would be playing in their second or third Manning Cup season and based on what we did last year and the quality we retained, we would have a very good chance of repeating the feat of getting to the final and even going a step further. But based on what is going on, we will never know," he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused ISSA to cancel the football season, and other sports for the first school term, September to December, and even though some stakeholders are optimistic a shortened version of the competition could be staged next year, Williams is not too convinced that will happen.
"One would want that, especially for the youngsters in their final year, as that is the year they really showcase what they have, whether for scholarships or opportunities overseas," he said. "But realistically, when we look at what is happening with the virus, the pace it is growing at, and our ability to cope with it as a nation or school fraternity, I doubt we will have any football going forward for this school year."
Williams says STATHS has established a programme that will ensure they continue to be one of the main contenders for the title each year.
"Our programme is young, but we know what we are about and what we need to put in place to be one of the top teams in schoolboy football," he said. "We could not compete with the KCs (Kingston College) and JCs (Jamaica College) in terms of recruiting, so we spend a lot of time developing our youngsters in the junior teams into what we want them to be so they are ready when they come up to the Manning Cup level. So the junior programmes is what has been giving us our push since 2017.
"A lot of people believed 2017 was a fluke. In 2019 they were still saying the same thing. But we have taken our time to ensure that we put in what needs to be done to make sure our programme is in and around the semi-finals each year. It is something we have developed at STATHS and it is something we want to maintain," he said.