Track coach Bennett suprises in football
If you were surprised to see accomplished track and field coach Corey Bennett guiding Hydel High School in the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup football competition, join the queue.
A closer look makes it clear that Bennett has always loved the beautiful game. Speaking at Hydel recently, he shared his journey through football as a player at preparatory school, high school and at college to his first season as a Manning Cup coach.
"I got my start from Mr Mabricio Ventura, KC (Kingston College) old boy, KC legend, who basically taught me both football and track and field, and that's where it started," Bennett recalled of his days at Wolmer's Preparatory School.
Bennett did both sports at Wolmer's Boys' School and co-captained a national championship Under-16 team in 1986, and again doubled up at Long Island University.
He later coached Wolmer's to a national Under-14 title in 2004.
"The truth is, football is my favourite sport," said the man who coached Hydel to the top of its first-round group. "I just prefer the discipline that track and field offers."
He added.: "I just believe that if we can get football to even close to where track and field is in Jamaica, we would be producing some world-beaters."
Hydel's best Manning Cup campaign came five years ago with Geoffrey Maxwell, who took the school to the 2012 final. Since then, Hydel have always emerged from the first round, only to meet disappointment despite having the services of high-calibre coaches like Maxwell, Donovan Hayles and Donovan Duckie.
In a reiteration of a May 29 interview with The Star, Bennett explained why he stepped into the coaching role.
"There was too much indiscipline in the sport, especially here at Hydel," he recounted. "I just want to see if I could curb that a little bit and add my two cents or my value to the sport, even for a year or two, and then step away from it again."
He thanks noted football coach Leebert Halliman for his advice and support.
"He told me I could do it. I still call him every now and again for advice, but he has taught me so much about football and life outside of football," Bennett said.
"This is just for me to get things back on a playing field where I'm satisfied with what I'm seeing for the boys in the classroom and out of the classroom from Hydel," concluded Hydel's head of sports.
Hydel was eliminated from this year's Manning Cup in the second round.