Wolmer's Prep juggle balancing act in search of dynasty

Sport

Wolmer's Prep juggle balancing act in search of dynasty

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

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RECENT champions of the Jamaica Independent Schools' Association (JISA) Preparatory Schools football competitions, Wolmer's Preparatory are heading towards dominating and creating a dynasty while enabling their student athletes to also excel in the classroom.

The team, coached by Raymond Leveridge, aim to make their football programme so strong that they will also develop high-quality players of sound balance — academically and athletically — to feed into the national system.

“I also challenge the boys who play football to be in the top 10 of their respective classes academically. I charge them to be school leaders and whenever these goals are achieved I reward them, with the help of the parents,” said Leveridge.

In the past five seasons several players have been called for national junior team duties, namely Ajani Thompson (now at Wolmer's Boys' School), plus Malique Lorraine and Matthew Baker, who now attend Kingston College (KC).

Both Thompson and Lorraine went on to represent Jamaica's Under-15 Reggae Boyz and Lorraine is currently a member of the Reggae Boyz set-up at the Under-17 level.

This qualitative reflection is evident in the number of Wolmer's Prep boys chosen for the all-prep football teams' annual battle against their all-primary counterparts, with no less than five Wolmer's Prep youngsters being part of the final squad since 2015.

The school's chairman, Ryan Foster, stressed the importance of developing well-rounded individuals who perform at a high standard, on and off the field.

“Wolmer's Prep prides itself as being one of the oldest and most established prep schools in the region. We believe in the complete athlete, one who finds that balance between education and sport,” he stated.

“The football programme over the past six years has done tremendously well and more importantly, these athletes have also excelled in their educational pursuits.”

Foster continued: “We have seen the importance of having a complete athlete as there are many of these preparatory school athletes who don't progress any further from this level of sport. And there are also others who progress, but seek to look at life after competition. Wolmer's Prep and the Wolmer's group have done well over the years to not only produce successful athletes such as Luton Shelton, Allan Rae, Gareth Breese, Ricardo Gardner, Michael Frater, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Jonelle Smith, but that balance is also seen with successful business leaders such as Chris and Milton Samuda, Professor Gordon Shirley, and Brian Wynter, to name a few.”

Wolmer's Prep won the Alberga Cup KO in 2018. That year they placed fourth in the Henriques Cup competition. In 2017 they almost claimed the double by winning the Henriques Cup and finishing runners-up in the Alberga Cup.

The school has placed among the top four in both competitions for the past five years and going forward, Leveridge has set a high bar.

“The goals I have for the programme is to win the double in one season (Alberga and Henriques Cup). After that we aim to win both titles for at least three years straight, and in that process continue to produce boys who are well-rounded academically and athletically,” shared Leveridge.

He noted that introducing players to the game at the toddler stage and reinforcing fundamentals are important principles.

“Some of these principles are: introducing the game as early as four years old to the boys in the school — I call it football clinic; teach them all the basic fundamentals needed to play the game; repetition of correct techniques, practices and sponsorship — this builds good and strong practices, no matter what; and insisting on continuous touches on the ball daily even if there is no training; building football fitness and IQ (teaching them the theory of the game — laws, rules – as well as how to control their emotions and make their own decisions),” Leveridge said.

These are supported by his own philosophies, fostered by competition.

“Some of my personal philosophies are to keep them actively competing all year round at all levels in the school and with outside competitions. These include: class vs class weekly in first term; inter-house football competitions; upper school all stars vs lower school all stars; Grade 6 (school leavers) vs the rest of the school (future team); practice games vs schools, clubs and academies; and the most recent past team returning to play the current team each year,” he explained.

“A major part of this all running continuously is having solid parent support for the football programme, as well as a deeply connecting relationship with all the boys who play the game at the school, whether they are on the team or not,” said Leveridge. “All the footballers are brothers, from the juniors to the advanced stage, so they look out for each other on and off the field every day, even when they are in their separate homes.”


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