Maverley/Hughenden looking to strengthen for Premier League
After being away from top-flight football for over two decades, Maverley/Hughenden FC is well aware of the magnitude of work required to at least survive in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL).
The Kingston 20 team gained qualification to the RSPL for the second time since 1992, when they finished second in the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF)/Charley's JB Rum Premier League play-offs over a week ago.
Jamalco, who qualified for the first time, topped the four-team standings on 16 points, ahead of Maverley/Hughenden on nine points. Brazil FC ended third on eight points, while Granville FC finished at the bottom without a point after losing all six games.
Maverley/Hughenden FC will not hosts games at their Maverley Park venue, at least for the first four months into the season.
According to the Jamaica Football Federation, to host a home match venues must have a minimum 1,000 seating capacity, adequate changing rooms for teams and match-day officials; public address system; perimeter fencing; uniformed and plain-clothes security; elevated media platform; and a turnstile.
Manager of Maverley/Hughenden FC, Craig Walters, said after a one-week break he is back on the job in order to get things in place for the upcoming season.
"We are definitely trying to get support. The aim is to get the Maverley Park ready during the season. We are looking at January to start playing at Maverley. In the interim, we will negotiate with Waterhouse and Constant Spring to host games in the early season," Walters told The Gleaner.
"Member of Parliament (North West St Andrew) Mr Derrick Smith has indicated support, also Mr Ian Telfer (PNP councillor candidate). I personally took time off. Now we want to put things in place. It will be a work in progress," he shared.
LACK OF SUPPORT
"We are in discussions with Fosters Sports to provide sporting equipment. We will also be meeting with business persons in and around the communities to solicit assistance. We are looking at a budget worth $16 million to $20 million to run the club and pay salaries," Walters projected.
Some five seasons ago, Maverley/Hughenden competed in the now-defunct Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) Syd Bartlett League. When that competition was scrapped due to lack of support, the club participated in the Major League and two seasons ago lost to Seaview Gardens in the final and gained promotion to the Super League which they won in the first season.
Now, Maverley/Hughenden are back in the 'big league' and things will have to change in terms of getting quality players.
"We have been receiving a lot of calls from players showing interest in joining the team. I personally can get any player, once the money is good. We are also looking at other technical persons to assist Lijyasu Simms and Hugh 'Bingy' Blair. We want a coaching complement," he pointed out.
Walters also said he has invited persons to join the board at Maverley/Hughenden and that will be ratified soon. The team training will get under way in another two weeks' time.
He said Maverley-born Manchester City and England star, midfielder Raheem Sterling, could also be involved.
"I'm sure Raheem is aware that we are in the top league. We understand that he will be in Jamaica next month, so we hope to meet with him and have discussions. If we work out a plan it will be a major boost for the programme. I'm pretty sure Raheem will be involved," Walters confidently stated.
Maverley/Hughenden will kick off their campaign against reigning champions Montego Bay United away on Sunday, August 28.
There will be a fundraiser by Maverley Supporters Group this Saturday at Maverley Park at the intersection of Molynes Road and West Main Drive. The event includes a family fun day, barbecue and stage show, with dancehall stars Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Sizzla among those slated to perform.