By Morissa Lindsay
Senior national player Kemar Headley took over the reins as Weymouth Wales’ talisman when he buried the lone goal of the match during extra time that led his team to the men’s Barbados Football Association Republic Cup Trophy against Ellerton Club last night.
In front of a massive sold-out crowd last night at the BFA Headquarters in Wildey, St Michael, Wales won themselves BDS$30, 000 as they snatched a hard-fought 1-0 victory in the 101st minute of extra time thanks to Headley with a magnificent header. He was crowned Most Valuable Player and received BDS$5, 000 for his outstanding performance.
The men of Carrington Village in recent years have dominated local football and under the leadership of coach Carlos Jackman and senior Barbados captain Hadan Holligan they continue to do so. During a post-match interview Holligan said it felt good to come out undefeated in the tournament and this would make it the second time Wales have beaten Ellerton in a major knockout final having done so in 2019 when they captured the Capelli Cup title.
“Ellerton is a good team that is building, so I know that the game was going to be tough so we just had to take the opportunities that came and Kemar the MVP took his opportunity, though he missed the penalty (first half), he made up for it late down in the game,” Holligan said.
After a goalless battle in full time, extra time came into play because both teams were outstanding in the defensive third. Ellerton who were fantastic throughout the tournament but lost focus at a crucial point of the contest that cost them the match. With the level of experience in Wales’ camp, Headley delivered something special to the large crowd of supporters.
Despite the persistent rains, that did not stop the players from going all out. In fact, the game was extremely fast paced despite the wet conditions they would have had to endure.
During the first half Wales had an early bite at the cherry when they were awarded a penalty kick. That chance came about when Wales’ striker Nadre Butcher was brought down in the area and referee Kevon Clarke wasted no time pointing to the spot. Despite being given that opportunity to score, Ellerton’s top goalkeeper Jamar Brewster brilliantly denied Wales the lead in that 37th minute. Brewster has convincingly made a name for himself as perhaps the best goalkeeper in Barbados right now. It was no surprise when he was awarded the prize for best goalkeeper of the tournament.
Following that near scare by Wales, the lads from Ellerton and their coach Corey Barrow breathed a lot easier at the sound of the whistle to signal halftime. In the second half Ellerton with a fabulous opportunity to take the advantage missed out when Captain Shakille Belle with some brilliance on the left squared a quality ball to an incoming Anson Barrow but that resulted in a disappointing miss.
Both teams made some vital substitutions and rightfully so as it was noticeable that some of the players looked tired.
After many failed attempts to score on both ends the match went into 15 minutes of extra time (two half). As desperation began to hit, some of the plays got too physical and referee Kevon Clarke needed to take control of the game before it got out of hand. Credit to referee Clarke he held his own amidst the frustrations and did an excellent job.
There were also a couple injuries in the game and Wales physiotherapist Marita Marshall in particular was kept quite busy. Senior national players Akeem Hill and Rashad Smith both had to be taken off via the stretcher.
However, it was all worth it in the end for the men in green as they took home another massive pay cheque and continued to cement their rich local football legacy.
In the BFA Women’s Super League competition, University of the West Indies Blackbirds emerged as champions thanks to the lone match winning goal in the 36th minute from Most Valuable Player Rianna Cyrus.
Cyrus registered the lone goal of the match during the second half against Fitts Village Football Club (FVFC) Femeni and in doing so put UWI on center stage. The top senior national women’s striker, Cyrus ended the tournament with more than 20 goals.
UWI’s winning captain Khadijah Mars said it was a lot of hard work for her team but she was happy with the end result in the final. “It was a lot of hard work throughout, sometimes we had to train twice as hard, we know that the competitors are tough and a pretty experienced team. We knew that the game was going to be a challenging one but I am happy that we came out victorious.”
Senior Male MVP: Kemar Headley (Wales)
Junior Male MVP: Nadre Butcher (Wales)
Senior Female MVP: Rianna Cyrus (UWI)
Junior Female MVP: Lisa Harding (Pinelands)
Best Midfielder Male: Romario Harewood (Wales)
Best Midfielder Female: Shanice Stevenson (UWI)
Best Defender Male: Shane Codrington
Best Defender Female: Adrienne Forde (UWI)
Best Goalkeeper Male: Jamar Brewster (Ellerton)
Best Goalkeeper Female: Rhea Holder (FVFC Femeni)