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Strength in the face of tragedy ... St George’s College mourns passing of Manning Cup team captain

Published:Wednesday | September 21, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser
The grief they feel weighs heavily on the entire student body.
St George's College football coach Neville Bell (left) is consoled by Minister of Education Ruel Reid during a devotion held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral yesterday after the death of the school's football captain, Dominic James, on Tuesday.
Former Minister of Education and St George's College old boy Ronald Thwaites (right) consoles several St George's College students during a devotion held following the death of the school's football captain.
Neville Bell consoles a St Georges College student.
Grieving St George's College students.
Guidance counsellor Jacqueline Whilby attends to John Wilson, goalkeeper for the St George's College football team, and schoolmate Leonardo Cunningham yesterday, at the thanksgiving devotion for the life of the school's football captain, Dominic James, who died on Tuesday.

In an atmosphere punctuated by the silent suffering of mourning students and staff at St George's College, the most enduring image was the embrace of the school's football coach Neville Bell and the young boys under his charge.

Surrounded by the members of the team, Bell boldly expressed his desire for them to press on with the remaining matches in the ISSA-FLOW Manning Cup football competition.

That show of strength defied the palpable grief expressed by students and staff of the North Street-based institution who gathered at the Holy Trinity Cathedral for a thanksgiving devotion for the school's Manning Cup team captain, Dominic James, who died on Tuesday after collapsing early into a football match with rival Excelsior High School.

Minister of Education Ruel Reid, in bringing tributes, shared personal recollections of his interaction with James during his time as principal at Jamaica College. James was a student at Jamaica College before transferring to St George's College.

"When I was principal, leading the transformation of Jamaica College, I remember him as a shining example because he had all of the qualities we were trying to instill in the students," he said.

Reid's opposition counterpart, the Reverend Ronald Thwaites, emphasised the spirit of unity and togetherness while lauding Neville Bell for his courage

"We pray this morning for strength, strength amid our fears, and when the St George's team takes the field on Friday, we pray they will play with vigour," he said.

President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Howard Isaacs, in bringing his message to the grieving St George's College community, encouraged staff and students to support each other as they mourned.

"The JTA stands in solidarity with you," he said.

Isaacs addressed Bell directly, urging him to remain strong for the members of the Manning Cup team.