The name Jelani Phillips will be reverberating through the corridors and classrooms at Grantley Prescod Memorial for some time to come following the final of the BICO-sponsored National Sports Council’s Primary Schools Football Tournament today.
Just when the championship match against Milton Lynch seemed headed for overtime at the National Stadium, Grantley Prescod’s attacking mid-fielder brought joy to teammates, teachers, parents and supporters with the game-decider in the 38th minute, just two minutes before regulation time.
The special moment all stemmed from an aerial ball played by defender Zachary Lawrence to the tall lad Phillips who took control with a lovely header inside the 12-yard box, then followed through with the winning touch that secured the 1-0 victory for his team and produced what was their third overall title having last won in 2014 and back in 2002 when they were known as Pine Primary.
Victorious coaches Dwayne Moseley and Mario Vanderpool said they knew from day one that they were going to dominate zone three and lift the trophy. According to the duo, the Shorey Village-based Grantley Prescod team came out of a strong zone that included Hillaby Turners Hall. But Moseley said the players did what was required, kept the ball grounded and spread it on the respective flanks.
Strong defensive plays in the third were implemented by both teams and Grantley Prescod’s central defender, Kimani Straker was the young man that stood out in the judges’ eyes as the Most Valuable Player and Player of the Final.
The secret weapon for Grantley Prescod’s success in recent time has been KFC Pineland Youth Academy programme under the guidance of coach Fernando ‘Burger’ Best. Best has become a household name in local youth football and he had a similar occurrence back in 2014 when Grantley Prescod struck two late goals in extra time against Wesley Hall thanks to then star player Devonte Richards, now a student at Combermere School and a national Under-17 player. Today, Best relived that moment somewhat, with Phillips’ goal coming similarly late but just within the official match-time.
Milton Lynch won the toss and elected to run towards the Barbados Lumber Company end when the match officially began at 11 a.m under the whistle of Paradise and National Sports Council coach Kenville Layne. He was assisted by senior national players Rashad Jules and Raheim Sargeant.
Grantley Prescod’s attack led by Shakoby Brathwaite, Jean-Pierre Marville, Jelani Phillips along with Karim Ward who had the only hat-trick for his school during the competition, kept probing and searching for an opening in the final third.
Seconds before the 20-minute opening half ended, Brathwaite ran with a burst of speed down the left flank, outpaced two defenders before unleashing a right-footed shot that hit the left post of the goal bar to the agonizing sounds of anxious supporters.
In the second half Grantley Prescod led by captain Davon Forde weren’t as attacking as in the previous period and Milton Lynch, on the other hand, found it difficult to create goal-scoring opportunities despite captain Mikyle Norgrove, Christian Gill, Mykio Sobers, Jayden Rowe and Ajani Ashby, all trying their best to take on Grantley Prescod’s solid back four that comprised Kimani Straker, Dontae Price, Ky Rock and Zacahary Lawrence.
Grantley Prescod’s Anaco Morris, adjudged the best goalkeeper, did all in his power to ensure that Milton Lynch, formerly Christ Church Boys who last won 14 years ago, didn’t get anything past him. And he did his job brilliantly.
A total of 272 games were contested during the tournament, with 61 draws, a whopping 737 goals scored at an average of 2.7 per game. Grantley Prescod also accounted for the most goals in a single game – 11.
The third-place match ended 2-0 in favour of West Terrace Primary Tigers over St Stephen’s Primary, who had scored the most goals by any team in the competition with 28. But today West Terrace proved too much to handle as Tashawn Nurse and Azahri Dallaway both added their names to the scoresheet in the 17th and 27th minutes respectively.
The other top performers for 2018 were Christian Gill who was adjudged best midfielder, Kiaros Greaves of Sharon Primary had the most goals with 13 and the most outstanding female was Rashouna Edwards of Bayley’s Primary.
Trinity Academy were named the most improved team and they also copped the fair play award while the most disciplined accolade went to St Catherine’s Primary.