UWI look to build on historic premier league berth
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Football Club will look to support from its alumni in order to build on their historic spot in the 2015-16 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL).
UWI qualified for the first time in the nation's top-flight football competition after finishing second in the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) All-Island Confederation play-off series. They joined Portmore United in next season's premier league.
The UWI team and Savannah played to a 2-2 draw in the last set of games in the series on Sunday at Frome Sports Club, while Portmore, who had already qualified, swamped York United 5-0 at the Spanish Town Prison Oval.
Portmore finished on 14 points ahead of UWI (9), York (7) and Savannah SC (2).
"Just like many other (local) clubs, we have a good support system. Our main support is from the University campus," president of UWI, Dalton Myers, told The Gleaner yesterday.
"We already have our own resources at the campus, so we are looking to build on this moving forward. We are now looking for more support from the UWI alumni," Myers added.
UWI won the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) Super League, then advanced from the play-off, and the support has been growing.
"What has been good is the support from communities such as August Town and Mona. It has grown tremendously. People like winners, so we have been enjoying great support," Myers said.
At UWI, the players who gain scholarships to attend the institution benefit from the programme.
"We will ensure that the players are properly compensated in the premier league as that is a semi-professional league," the UWI president said.
no player restrictions
However, Myers said there will be no restrictions on players.
"The idea is to put out the best team, as we aim to stay up in the first season. We will look at players who can help the team in the premier league. We have no restrictions," he disclosed.
Myers lauded coach Marcel 'Fuzzy' Gayle for his role.
"We had a dream, and Gayle and his team bought into it. We have moved from the Syd Bartlett Competition to the Premier League. Gayle is a fantastic coach," Myers shared.
Meanwhile, Gayle, who has been at UWI since 2009, was overjoyed.
"This is easily my greatest achievement, and it is an exciting feeling, knowing that I have created history at UWI," Gayle said, following the game last Sunday.
He said it has been a total team effort.
"I say hats off to the players and management team, especially Andrew Peart, Neville Walters, Kerry-Ann Robinson, Evan Allen, and president Dalton Myers. They have given full support. Dalton had the vision and confidence in building the programme.
"Definitely, we want to build on this achievement. We will fight to stay in the league, so we will look to improve the squad. We have players such as Nicholas McMorris, Akeem Thenstead and Mitch Wright with premier league experience. We will enjoy the moment and start preparation in the next three weeks," Gayle disclosed.
Gayle spent time as assistant coach at Waterhouse FC up to last season, and said "my heart will always be there (Waterhouse), but I'm looking forward to UWI as it would be a conflict to be at two clubs," he shared.
Although out of contract after his one-year deal at UWI ended, Gayle is confident he will be back.
"My contact has expired, but I am positive that I will keep the job at UWI," Gayle said.