Decked out in bright red uniforms, Government Technical Institute (GTI) took to the field with an air of confidence in front of a supportive crowd at the Georgetown Cricket Club ground. It is that confidence combined with skilful play throughout the competition that saw GTI defeating Christianburg/Wismar Secondary to become the inaugural Digicel Schools Football Champions.
Top goal scorer of the championships and finals MVP Jermain Junior was the first to strike in the 20th minute after persistently attacking the Lindeners’ defensive line. Less than 2 minutes later Lawrence Higgings however equalized in spectacular fashion sending a message to the city side that they would have to work to life the title. In an apparent answer to the challenge Darren Peters displayed some fancy footwork before drilling GTI’s second goal into the back of the net.
Darrel Fraser continued the scoring in front of the large crowd by adding to the tally of GTI in the 51st. not to be outdone Trenton Lashley reduced the deficit to one goal when he struck in the 57th minute. Keifer Adonis and Darren Peters sealed the deal for GTI with their contributions despite a late goal by Lashley.
Though a 5-3 victory Is to be considered a convincing victory GTI missed several uncontested shots to goal. The team performed exceptionally throughout the championships however and played hard to earn the championship.
In the third place playoff New Amsterdam Technical Institute edged out an impressive Region 7 side in Waramadong Secondary, 3-2, on penalties after both sides scored 4 goals apiece in regulation and extra time. Waramadong, who was also voted as the most disciplined team of the tournament, showed impressive skill and were singled out as a team to watch in next year’s competition by Digicel CEO Gregory Dean in remarks following the finals.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds presented the championship trophy to the victorious GTI team which sparked wild celebrations on the field.
117 school teams participated in the inaugural championships and in the words of Dean next year’s competition “will be bigger and better.”
By - Andrew Ross
Head of Digicel Guyana Gregory Dean believes that the Schools Football Championships sponsored by his company augers well for the sport locally and in effect will only lead to a higher level of football at the national level.
Dean was present at the Region 4 finals at the Carifesta Sports Club ground between Charlestown Secondary and Government Technical Institute (GTI) on Saturday.
The CEO added that because of the exposure given to players at the school level "in one way it may make the Guyana Football Federation's (GFF) job a bit harder in terms of picking available players but in the end it will benefit the country as a whole in terms of quality representation".
He however said such development would not happen over night but views the competition as a step in the right direction in addition to other developmental programmes.
Meanwhile in the day's action an aggressive and confident GTI overcame a resilliant Charlestown Secondary.
Darren Fraser scored the first goal of the encounter in the 13th minute in favour of GTI. After the early breakthrough a relentless attack was launched on Charlestown's goal.
The attack took its toll on the defense and could be seen clearly in the 39th minute when Dennis Fung scored an own goal to seal the victory for GTI.
The winners now await the rest of the regional finals to conclude to find out who they will be up against when vying for the national title.
From all indications officials believe the city side will have a tough battle ahead since several regional teams have shown significant skill.
By - Andrew Ross