Unity Cup organiser wants to familiarise schoolboy footballers with crowd
Some of the island's schoolboy coaches will get the opportunity to test the readiness of the members of their teams for the upcoming football season, with the 14th staging of the Unity Cup, which organiser Allien Whittaker believes will allow players to overcome crowd jitters going into the season.
According to Whittaker, a former national goalkeeper, the Unity Cup aims to provide experience for the players as they prepare for the start of the urban area's Manning Cup and the rural area's daCosta Cup football competitions.
"There are first-timers in some of the teams who have never played in front of a large crowd, so this is a chance for them to get a taste of what it's like playing in their school colours and coming under the pressure of the fans.
"Initially, that was the aim in testing not only the players, but the coaches to see where they are with a competitive game before the high school season starts. With games like these, coaches can make their adjustments and see where they are now and where they are supposed to be," Whittaker said.
He is eyeing a successful staging of the Unity Cup on Sunday at Turner's Oval in Chapelton, Clarendon, where 10 teams will contest the knockout format event.
The competition is set to start at 8 a.m. when Thompson Town face Old Harbour, before Central tackle Ocho Rios at 10 a.m. Lennon battle Charlemont at noon, Munro College go against Wolmer's Boys' at 2 p.m. and Jamaica College (JC) face Rusea's at 4 p.m.
According to Whittaker, a former daCosta Cup winner at Garvey Maceo, who also played for Clarendon College, he uses the competition to show appreciation for what football has given him while assisting the competitive aspect of the players from the various schools.
"It's a way of showing appreciation because football has done so much for me in particular, so it's just giving back in the form of a football tournament. This tournament initially derived from the fact that I went to both Garvey Maceo and Clarendon College. So in previous years, the arrangement would have been to have both Clarendon-based teams playing in the featured game," he said.
He stated that he expects the competition to continue to grow, especially since it presents a pre-season tournament for the coaches, which during his playing days in the daCosta Cup competition, was not an option. His last daCosta Cup tournament was in 2001.
Whittaker believes the two-year break, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, affected the competition, which he started would have attracted more teams this year.