Sun | Feb 5, 2023

Manning Cup finalists keeping the focus during World Cup

Published:Friday | December 2, 2022 | 12:06 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter

Jamaica College’s coach Davion Ferguson.
Jamaica College’s coach Davion Ferguson.
Philip Williams, 
coach of St Andrew Technical.
Philip Williams, coach of St Andrew Technical.
Brazil’s Casemiro (centre) celebrates after scoring during the World Cup Group G match between Brazil and Switzerland at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar on Monday, November 28.
Brazil’s Casemiro (centre) celebrates after scoring during the World Cup Group G match between Brazil and Switzerland at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar on Monday, November 28.
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A World Cup in the middle of the schoolboy football is unusual. Although the action in Qatar can have the potential to distract teams, it has brought either laser focus or an opportunity to bond together as a team and learn in the cases of Jamaica...

A World Cup in the middle of the schoolboy football is unusual. Although the action in Qatar can have the potential to distract teams, it has brought either laser focus or an opportunity to bond together as a team and learn in the cases of Jamaica College head coach Davion Ferguson and St Andrew Technical High head coach Philip Williams.

The two teams will play for the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup title this evening at 6:30 at Sabina Park, their third final in five seasons, and will play for the third time this season. The decision to move the 2022 World Cup from the summer to the fall caused an unexpected opportunity for distraction as the schools are on the verge of title-winning campaigns. For Ferguson, while the tournament in Qatar has grabbed the attention of the country, it has not deterred his team from the task at hand. But Ferguson has achieved balance with his team using the tournament in between training to improve team chemistry.

“The potential for that (distractions) is there but, in the case of our group, they have the times that we train and we try to focus on what we have control over,” Ferguson told The Gleaner. “We also give leeway in the schedule for the boys to watch the games and we watch these games together. It is a part of our social interaction and to learn from each other or learn from them (the teams).”

Williams has had tunnel vision since the tournament began on November 20,with all eyes towards what he hopes will be the culmination of a season where they lift their first Manning Cup title since 1987. He said it has not been hard for him,or for the players, to keep focused on the goal in front of them.

“I haven’t watched a full game of the World Cup as yet. My sole focus has been the schoolboy football season and preparing the team to give them the best chance of winning. That’s the only focus for me right now,” Williams said. The tournament is being played while they are at school, so it would be difficult for them to watch if they wanted to. The only thing they can focus on is to finish this competition on a high with a title.”

For others, it may be easier said than done but, for Ferguson, it has been an adjustment but also a chance to forge a close bond with the team, whether in victory or in defeat

“I have my favourite team and they have theirs. The little banter helps to lift the mood in the camp. Sometimes it helps the mood when the result is negative,” Ferguson said. “People normally put their lives on pause for a month for World Cup and we have to deal with it.”

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com