Schoolboy footballers look to overseas opportunities
While not all Jamaican schoolboy footballers will meet full matriculation standards to local and international tertiary institutions this school year, many have indicated interest in pursuing academic scholarships. This as opposed to signing professional contracts when their high school studies are completed.
With the highlight of their sporting year now a memory, life after the daCosta Cup, Manning Cup, Walker Cup, Ben Francis Cup, FLOW Super Cup and Olivier Shield will take focus for a number of the island's top local young footballers.
FLOW Super Cup champions, Wolmer's Boys' School, the beaten Manning Cup finalists, could see up to eight of their student-footballers moving on, with team manager Kurt Boothe revealing that the youngsters are carefully weighing their options between continuing their education and pursuing professional football opportunities.
One of those players, defender Scott Williams, who currently has several offers from American universities, says he is focused on striking the right balance between football and academics.
"One hundred per cent of my teammates will prefer to go abroad, but not necessarily to play on a scholarship," Williams reasoned. "We know the quality of football here (in Jamaica) is not going anywhere, pretty much, so I am ready to pursue a scholarship."
Manning Cup champions Jamaica College (JC) might have seven players looking to make the most of attractive offers from local and overseas institutions, with the University of the West Indies, University of Technology (UTech), and G.C. Foster College providing the local options.
One such player is outgoing Captain Oquin Robinson, who, while receiving two firm offers, has University of Connecticut as his preferred choice.
Robinson noted that while all his teammates have sat and passed the US Collegiate prerequisite SAT examination, he is determined to continue his studies outside of Jamaica.
"Honestly, I want to go to UCONN. So, I am currently awaiting the best offer to move. I will definitely be moving overseas. It is the best choice for me," he argued.
Meanwhile, Gregory Daley, head of daCosta Cup champions Cornwall College's (CC) sports department, said his players do get scholarships, but few are qualified to enrol.
CC marksman Jourdaine Fletcher, who was top-scorer in the daCosta Cup competition, says he wants a scholarship despite featuring for Red Stripe Premier League champions Montego Bay United in the current campaign.
"I got a lot of contacts from schools overseas, and my mother is dealing with it. I am just using these games to get better," said Fletcher, who was recently named to the Reggae Boyz squad to face USA. "It is definitely important to still have something in the brain."