The saying is true – a school that prays together, wins together, both in and out of the classroom.
St Patrick’s Newtown Boys’ RC (SPNB) has proven to be a school of grit, never losing focus of the task at hand, excelling in most environments, especially academics and sports.
The school participated in the annual Port of Spain and Environs Primary School Under 12 Football League which started in September and ended Monday, October 31.
SPNB are no strangers to the league as they were champions twice before, as well as 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the National Primary School Football League.
The boys took nothing for granted and made it happen again in 2022, becoming POS champions for a third time.
Participation was fully endorsed by Principal Nicole Cheekes and her staff, who saw the games as an opportunity for the boys to release pent-up energies, tension, stress, and anxiety induced by the enervating Covid-19 environment. Despite some challenges, Cheekes made every effort to impress to ensure the boys were present and ready for the games.
The team was managed and coached by Gyasi Nkrumar, who seems to be building quite a reputation in the primary school football arena, as it is under his guidance that the school has attained their championship records.
He believes in balance and insists that all players must maintain good discipline at home and at school, good grades, a personal prayer life and positive attitudes.
Selecting the final team was no easy task as there was a good turnout for trials. Though many were called, only a few were chosen, but this proves the school is not short of talent and interest in the games.
The following boys represented the school: Angelo Fairchild (captain), Elijah Fernandes (goalkeeper), Dominic Voisin, Jahiem ‘Grovy’ Grosvenor, Ja’Shaun Stewart, Giano Gift, Andriel Williams, Jamari Aguilera, Zachary Elliot, Kiyan Jupiter, Joshua Sen, Antonio Gill, Tariq Batson, Jonah Primus, Azari Salandy and Shaden Roach.
The boys won their first game convincingly 6-1 then lost 2-1 to their long-time nemesis, Dunross Preparatory School under rain-drenched conditions. This was their only defeat as they won their other games 10-0, 1-0 and 5-1.
They ended the qualifiers at the top of their group of six teams with the most goals, just ahead of Morvant Primary and Dunross Prep.
But the finals was the talk of the town against none other than Dunross.
As they walked out on to the field at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, probably for the first time in their lives – but certainly not the last – the crowd (schoolmates and families) cheered them on to the beat of the rhythm section.
From the blow of the whistle the attack was on, and within the third minute, lead scorer Elliot latched on to a header from a throw to give SPNB a 1-0 lead.
Dunross was not to be pushed aside as they countered with some judicious strikes at the SPNB goal. In response, however, SPNB’s goalie Fernandes was having none of it as he pushed one wide, another over the bar, and pulled one from out of the ‘V’.
SPNB countered and in the 30th minute, Elliot evading two defenders and placed the ball in the bottom corner of the goal. The score was 2-0 at the half.
In spite of his best efforts, Fernandes was beaten far post in the second half by an audacious shot from Dunross’ Drew Persaud 20 metres out to make it 2-1.
Shaken but not derailed, the SPNB midfield and defence combined as Jupiter, Aguilera, and Gift troubled the energised Dunross attack.
Captain Fairchild marshalled his troops while Grosvenor and Elliot continued to strike. As the clock was winding down, Dunross managed to squeeze in one more shot which drew from Fernandes the save of the game and possibly the tournament. First going in one direction, then another, to push the close range shot wide of the post.
At the final whistle, the team and supporters roared, and the drums thundered as SPNB came away with the win and the U-12 championship trophy once again, with goalkeeper Fernandes adjudged MVP of the tournament. But all the players, substitutes included, were MVPs.
Congrats also to Dunross Prep and to all the teams that participated. You are the future of T&T football. Continue rising to the occasion.
The next conquest for SPNB is the National Primary School League. Here they come! —Andrew Fernandes