Mon | Sep 25, 2017

MBU Banking On Youth

Published:Tuesday | January 10, 2017 | 1:00 AMPaul Clarke
MoBay United’s Kevon Lambert (left) looks to play the ball forward as Romario Campbell of Waterhouse FC is about to make a challenge in their RSPL match at Wespow Park on Sunday.

In 2011, when Orville Powell acquired ownership of Seba United and subsequently rebranded the former two-time league winners, renaming the club Montego Bay United Football Club (MBU), it started what is now an avalanche of success.

They have gone on to win a Western Confederation Super League title (2011), added two Red Stripe Premier League crowns (2014, 2016), and can boast of a third-place finish at the 2015 Caribbean Football Union Club Championship.

Key to this is the club's policy of utilising talented, young players as the fulcrum to drive their aspirations for titles and club and community development.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that at the start of the January transfer window, they have doubled down on this policy by snapping up five supertalented former high-school players, including the 2016 Golden Boot winner in the DaCosta Cup, Jourdaine Fletcher.

 

ADDED PLAYERS

 

Fletcher, who scored 30 goals to lead Cornwall College to an unbeaten run in winning the DaCosta Cup crown last year, is joined at the Red Stripe Premier League champions by forward Deshane Beckford and Ranaldo Thompson (Rusea's).

Big central defender Pagiel Brown and midfielder Michael Heaven (also of Cornwall College) were also added to the mix.

Fletcher is celebrated as the best forward at the youth level, locally, and the striker underlined that assessment by scoring MBU's winning goal on debut in their come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Waterhouse FC in their Premier League match on Sunday in front of a big crowd at their Wespow Park facility.

His audacious left-footed volley, which gave MBU three points against Waterhouse, is already being spoken of as a contender for goal of the season.

"We continue to invest in the talent of these youngsters in western Jamaica, not only to benefit the club, but also to help them transition into the senior ranks, and, hopefully, to the international stage," MBU's assistant coach Dillon Thelwell said.

"This is a club that attracts good talent, and Fletcher, as he showed, is one of many we have on our books. Going forward, you will see that we are serious about building for the future, and these young players will get us there," added Thelwell, who gave Fletcher an entire half of Sunday's game to make his mark.

The champions are noted for scouting the right way, and when they brought in Kevon Lambert two seasons ago to help shore up the defence, MBU looked to have hit the jackpot.

Lambert is now in his second season with the club and is seen by the coaches, club officials, and most importantly, the fans, as the best player on the team, notwithstanding the quality of players such as Allan Ottey, Dino Williams, Jermaine Woozencroft, Ladale Richie, and John Barrett, among others.

The former Glenmuir High School central defender is relishing his role so far, drawing plaudits from supporters, who have likened his style of play to that of former Seba standout Allan 'Ply' Latty.

 

YOUNGEST SQUAD

 

The average age at MBU is 23 years old, making it the youngest squad in the Premier League, and Thelwell believes that this fact has contributed to them dominating opponents.

"That we are leading in the standings halfway the season is certainly because we have some of the best players in the country and because the squad is young and teachable," reasoned Thelwell.

"MBU will always be interested in talents such as Fletcher's and the others because it's our policy. Clubs at the international level have shown that it's the way to go. We are a big club in a little country, but we aim for huge international competitions, and our pool of young players will be the engine that gets us there," Thelwell said.