National Under-15 striker Aaron Cumberbatch produced a brilliant hat-trick that led Alexandra School to their first Coca-Cola Barbados Secondary Schools’ Football League Under-14 title in more than a decade.
Monday afternoon at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex, Paradise Park, St Michael, Alexandra took on last year’s champions and the titans of schools football in Barbados, St Leonard’s Boys, and defeated them 3-0 in a dominant display.
Playing under heavy showers, Cumberbatch, captain of the victorious Alexandra team, will definitely cherish his outstanding performance Monday in what was his final year playing Under-14 football for his school. Alexandra did not concede a game in the tournament.
The second-form student who is also a product of Pro Shottas Soccer Club took the first strike ten minutes into the contest and brilliantly so with a fast break down the right flank in the tenth minute. He ran past two defenders, cut inside the box where he played the ball past two more players at the back before delivering a left-foot scorcher past St Leonard’s diving goalkeeper Romero Bradshaw.
Just before water break in the 16th minute, Alexandra took the momentum with a 2-0 lead when referee Ronald Cumberbatch signalled a penalty which was taken by Cumberbatch. It was a call that did not sit too well with St Leonard’s supporters who deemed the call a bit harsh after the player had no control over the ball making contact with his hand.
After 25 minutes of the first half dominated by Alexandra, St Leonard’s were under pressure to deliver and successful coach Fabian Massiah had his work cut out for him. But it seemed whatever they discussed at half time brought about a more attacking style of play from St Leonard’s.
Kyle Forde was on a quest to bring his team back into the game with the first real shot at goal in the second half when he took control of a long pass from the left and kicked towards the goal with the only thing in the way being Alexandra goalkeeper Michael Chandler who did well to place his body behind the ball.
Cumberbatch then secured his hat-trick in the 26th minute when the ball was threaded through to Alexandra’s key marksman on the right who made his way into the 18-yard box and hammered the nail into the coffin for a low left-footed finish that buried St Leonard’s and brought glory to the boys in blue as they celebrated in the rain.
The last time Alexandra reached the Under-14 final was seven years ago in 2010 and coach Kirk Corbin gave credit to his opponents St Leonard’s whom he said had set a superlative standard for the past umpteen years.
According to Corbin, the school has been blessed to have players coming into the system that has prior exposure and understanding about the game.
“We are ecstatic because usually, the tournament goes through St Leonard’s, so we are happy to have come today and execute the way we know we should have. It has been heartbreaking for us a lot of years but I am just happy for the guys, the school in general and the entire Alexandra family.
“We get a lot more players coming in having been exposed to more football, so it is just a matter of man management and making sure everybody is mentally ready. We have a lot of guys that are already playing club football and we have a few that are in the national programme. So it is a matter of making sure everybody is fit, making sure everybody’s head is in the right place and let them work it out on the field. I don’t hold them back. Sometimes coaches might be guilty of over coaching, I just want the talent to show, let them come, I pick out mistakes and we go for there,” Corbin said.
The St Michael School won the third place game 1-0 against Queen’s College thanks to hero Josiah Parris with the winner in the 22nd minute.
Despite coming out on the losing end, St Leonard’s still have several reasons to smile as they took away a fair share of the awards. They captured the trophy for being champions of both the Under-16 League and Knockout against runners-up Combermere in both instances. The Under-19 league title also belonged to the boys in maroon after they came out on top against the Lester Vaughan School. Meanwhile, league two winners were Barbados Vocational Training Board and Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic champions of the knockout.