Committed Waite looking to deliver fourth Manning Cup at 'Charlie'
Coach of Charlie Smith High, Jerome 'Jerry' Waite, has guided the Trench Town-based institution to its seventh Manning Cup schoolboy football final despite difficult challenges.
He started at 'Charlie' as assistant coach to Oliver Clue in 1987 and was elevated to his present position in 1990. Since that time, the school won three of the urban area Manning Cup titles - 1988, 1990 and 1995.
They lost in three finals - 1989, 1998 and 2011. Now, 'Charlie' is back in the final after a 1-0 win against Wolmer's Boys' in one semi-final last Saturday at Stadium East. In the other semi-final, defending champions Jamaica College (JC) beat Camperdown High 4-2.
Come Saturday, both winners will square off for the 2014 crown.
Charlie Smith, like some other schools, does not have a sixth-form programme and are also lacking in resources to properly manage their sports programme.
However, Waite, who has worked with Charlie Smith for 27 years, pointed out that commitment to his community school has kept him going.
"It speaks to my commitment by spending so many years at Charlie Smith. We have achieved despite challenges. It is not easy. I'm looking for past students to get involved and give back to the school in order to grow in sports and academics," the former Wolmer's Boys' student told The Gleaner.
In terms of football, Waite pointed out that he also invests a lot of time in off-the-field coaching.
"Outside of hard work, I take time out to teach the players how to understand various roles and develop them technically in order to teach them systems of play," Waite told The Gleaner.
"Each player must be able to understand his role to help the team. It's all about team work," he insisted. "It is always a learning process for the players."
Waite also emphasised the value of discipline.
"Discipline is priority. I try to instill that in the players. They have to maintain discipline to be successful and that also helps when they become adults."
At the start of the season, Charlie Smith were not considered among the top teams for the title. But they are a win away from a fourth Manning Cup.
"I'm not surprised that we are in the Manning Cup final. We have been unbeaten in the Manning Cup this year. However, I expected more from the team in the Super Cup and Walker Cup competitions," Waite pointed out.
In the semi-final against Wolmer's, who 'Charlie' had also beaten in the Walker Cup quarter-final last month, Waite said the plan was to contain Jaheel Hyde as he is a World Junior hurdles champion, in addition to being a quality player.
"Jaheel Hyde is a highly rated athlete, so our plan was to nullify him. Whatever we do in practice we expect the team to apply in games.
"It was a well-executed game by us (Charlie Smith). Both teams played tactically, but Wolmer's spent too much time in defence and playing the long ball to Hyde," Waite said.
With regards to the big final against highly favoured JC, Waite said while their opponents are strong, they remain optimistic.
"It will be a good match between two teams unbeaten in the Manning Cup," he said. "They (JC) have depth. We fell short in the Walker Cup and Super Cup. However, that gave us time to regroup and I'm pretty much confident despite being up against the best-playing schoolboy team this year.
"We have a competent team that is strong in defence, so as long as this Charlie Smith team continue to work hard we can win," he stated.
'Charlie Smith's hope of adding another Manning Cup title rests on players such as goalkeeper Leon Taylor, central defenders Lemmar Stewart and Odane Samuels, midfielders Shamar Pryce and Chevon Crooks, and main goalscorers Bebeto McDonald and Kimani Arbouine.