Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau:After buckling at the semi-final stage two years ago, Cornwall College's U-16 team is now the toast of the Montego Bay-based school as the youngsters have not only won the coveted national Under-16 football title this year, but have done so with a vengeance, adding three additional titles as a bonus.
The titles the Cornwall College juniors won alongside the National Under-16 title are the pre-season Sandals/Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) St James U-17 Championship, the Under-16 Galloway Cup, and the Rural Schools Cup.
"Two years ago, we were disappointed at not going on to the final as we were beaten at the semi-final stage. So coming into this year's competition, we had just one thing on our minds and that was, we needed to win it all," coach Leacroft Lettman told Western Focus.
Interestingly, the success of the Lettman-coached team comes against the background of the failure of Cornwall College's senior team to advance past the Interzone round of the 2012 daCosta Cup after topping Zone A of the competition's Preliminary round.
For Lettman, a former outstanding daCosta Cup player for Cornwall College, this year's success did not come by chance but was as a result of the hard work that went into the team's pre-season preparation.
"Our win in the Sandals/ATL competition provided the impetus to perform well in the ISSA Under-16 competitions," stated Lettman.
In addition to the glory the young men earned for their school, there were also rich benefits for three individual players who, by virtue of their performance during the season, earned invitations to join the national Under-20 squad, which is currently in training.
Utility player Alrick Ottey, who scored a hat-trick in Cornwall College's big 7-0 win over Wolmer's Boys' School in the All-Island finals, outstanding goalkeeper Leonardo Frigenette, and left-side player Omrick McFarlane are the three players invited to the Wendell Downswell-coached Under-20 unit.
Ottey, who is the younger brother of former St James High School star striker Allan Ottey, ended the National Under-16 Competition as the leading goalscorer.
In reflecting on a season which has left him with many happy memories, Lettman believes the strong competition for places on the team helped to keep his young charges sharp and fully engaged all season.
"We have a big squad of roughly 42 players, so the competition for places on the starting team was always very intense," said Lettman. "I also believe the strong discipline of the team played an important part in our success.
"Every single player was motivated to succeed and it showed in the performances that brought us not one, but four titles in one year," added Lettman.