Money matters - Price weighs in on schoolboy football dynamic
When pundits try to predict the winner of this Saturday's Olivier Shield clash, trend analysis may be useless. Corporate Area teams have had a hold on the Shield since 2005, but there is one recent sign that the trend might be about to turn. According to noted coach Andrew Price, the Corporate Area dominance is founded in the deployment of resources.
It runs from 2005, when Calabar won the Shield, and Price believes past-student associations are key players in the success of teams from Kingston.
"To be quite honest, I think that the resources that a lot of the Corporate Area teams get into their programmes from the old boys' associations have helped them to prepare properly for an entire season-long programme", said Price, who played for the 1984 St George's College team that took the Shield to the light-blue side of North Street.
The dominance extends to the ISSA Champions Cup, which began with two all-Corporate Area finals in 2014 when Jamaica College beat Holy Trinity High 2-0, to be followed by St George's College's 4-0 drubbing of Jamaica College in 2015.
Cornwall College became the first rural school to reach the final in 2016, only to lose to Wolmer's Boys. Price notes that the Cornwall College team is similar in the support it received from the school's alumni.
"You have schools like Cornwall College who will do well because they have a similar backing of their old boys' association," Price said. "That is very important in schoolboy football ... that the support from old boys' associations is very important to how well a team can do in the respective competitions."
Estimates were sought on the cost of a successful schoolboy football campaign and were found to be in the region of $10 million to $15 million. Those figures do not encompass donations of services, like medical care given free by past students and other donations in kind.
After Kingston College's 3-0 victory over St Elizabeth Technical last year, Cornwall College came through to win the Champions Cup this year with a 1-0 margin over Jamaica College.
Price, an assistant coach to the 2019 World Cup-bound Reggae Girlz, says superior financial support isn't the only thing that has kept Corporate Area schools in charge.
Speaking candidly, he noted, "It's the school that can recruit the best, within the guidelines that are set by ISSA, that is going to do well. If you can attract that quality player to your team, within the guidelines of ISSA rules, then you can put together a very good team."
Acknowledging the current debate about recruiting, he was frank.
"Gone are the days that we see students from first form matriculating through the various age-group games and going on to play Manning Cup. Now, it's people coming from other schools and actually playing for their new schools," said Price.
Clarendon College and Kingston College will play for the Olivier Shield at the National Stadium on Saturday, December 8. Kick-off time is set for 6 p.m.