Two schools, one trophy, one year’s bragging rights and one million dollars up for grabs! That’s the story of the 5th Digicel Schools Football tournament final set for 18:00hrs today at the Guyana National Stadium, between Chase Academy and Christianburg/Wismar Secondary.
What started with 160 schools stretched across Guyana, the ‘win or go home’ formatted championship is the country’s biggest schools football tournament. In fact, it’s the only one of its kind that allows for stars to be born where players are immortalised for their football exploits.
Christianburg/Wismar Secondary is the tournament’s most decorated school, having featured in all five finals, winning three consecutively and now chasing their fourth title.
Their consistency, style of play and unmatched track-record make them clear favourites over Chase Academy. But while to neutral lovers of the game Linden seem to have the advantage on paper, the two sides are very similar.
Chase Academy can easily boast about being the best team in Georgetown, and why not? After all, not since the Georgetown Technical Institute defeated Christianburg/Wismar Secondary in the tournament’s first installation (2011) have a city school featured in the final.
Waramadong, the school from Region 7, who will be playing in the third place playoff against Annai Secondary, have played in three finals and two semi-finals.
Head coach Vurlon Mills has built a team that is certainly hard to beat. The players have proved their worth among all the top schools in Georgetown by capturing the Milo Schools football championship and now looking to add the Digicel title to their cabinet.
It certainly wouldn’t be an easy task and the players understand that. While not meeting in an official tournament, Chase Academy played the reigning Digicel champions twice earlier in the year, drawing the first game 1-1 and losing the other 4-3.
“Those two games taught us a lot about them,” Mills said at a post-game press conference hosted at Digicel’s Kingston head office last Friday.
Mills noted that winning three titles in four outings is an unbelievable achievement in the tournament and as such, the defending champions must be respected. He, however, said that Chase Academy are looking to make a mark of their own in schools football and will be aiming to bring the title back to Georgetown.
Meanwhile, after being the ‘team to beat’ in schools football, one would think that Christianburg/Wismar Secondary coach Anthony Stephens would be boastful, but his approach towards tonight’s game is admirable.
“We play the game and God decides the winner,” Stephens told the gathering of reporters at the press conference.
“We don’t really have anything to prove anymore in this competition. I think we’ve already built a legacy and now it’s just to go out there and play the same way we do all the time and hope for the best,” the coach humbly said.
While Duquan Hercules, Omar Brewley, Jovon Babb and Kendolph Lewis are the ones doing the bulk of the scoring for the champions, coach Stephens attributed his team’s success to their collective approach to the game.
“We don’t play one-man football. Everyone works together. We play as a team and I’m proud of my guys. They go out there and do their best and at least try hard to keep the system we practise,” Stephens said.