'We want to play'
Though grieving the sudden loss of captain Dominic James, 20-time ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup champions, St George's College, want to honour their fallen star by returning to not just play, but defeat Excelsior High School tomorrow.
James, who died just shy of his 19th birthday - September 26 - was representing his school during a Manning Cup football game against Excelsior High School at Stadium East on Tuesday.
He collapsed within five minutes after the game started and was later pronounced dead at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
Speaking in a touching tribute at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston yesterday, St George's Coach Neville 'Bertis' Bell said: "Don't feel sorry for us, pray for us. We will make it, we will be strong."
The player was affectionately referred to as 'Alessandro', his middle name, by Bell.
"I understand that there is a meeting today to decide not whether Manning Cup will go on. It will go on, but whether the game will be played this Friday," Bell said.
"We want to play, his father and mother is not here. Obviously, it was difficult for them. I spoke to them this morning and asked them what would Dominic want. They said, 'We want you to play'," Bell continued.
The long-time coach said it was an easy choice promoting the deceased to captain of the team this year. James had only transferred to St George's College last year from Jamaica College and had made a big impact on the Light Blues Manning Cup team.
"Every single year at the start of training, I name about five captains, and I tell them we will see who the leader is. It was easy this year. Ian Forbes, the team manager of Jamaica College, thank you for sending him down to us. He was a blessing. St George's turned around and beat you last season and Dominic scored," Bell reflected.
The coach said thanks to all the schools who came down to pay their respects - Kingston College, Holy Trinity, Wolmer's Boys', Excelsior High and Calabar High.
"All the schools, good to see you. We want to beat you so badly, and we pray God will give us the strength to perform to the best of our ability, and whatever happens after that, we will see," continued Bell.
"I have to say thanks to Excelsior. They came to beat us, they were playing hard to beat us, but when it happened, they hugged us, they cried with us, they prayed with us. We thank you so very much," Bell shared.
"We want to play. It doesn't matter if we win or lose. It is not just about winning the competition, but one of the reasons we want to play is because we are St George's College, we are strong, and yes, we will cry," noted Bell, while calling for support for the former captain's parents.
"Dominic is an only child. I cannot imagine what his mother and father are going through right now. Let us be strong for them as we grieve," stressed Bell.