Coach of Charlemont High School in Linstead, St. Catherine, Donovan Duckie, is not dismayed although the task of advancing to the quarterfinals of the daCosta Cup competition has become much more difficult for his squad.
Moments after his team lost 3-0 to Dinthill Technical High yesterday, he said his players are young, adding that the competition this season is “a great experience” for them.
“We are like 15 and 16 year-olds. At the end of the season, probably only one player will leave [and] so they are not the finished product [now]. I think in terms of the quality – physical, technical, tactical, organization of Dinthill; they are the finished product,” added the former national coach.
He also coached a number of the island’s top clubs, including Sporting Central Academy, Humble Lion, Waterhouse, and Mount Pleasant.
Asked how he feels now being at Charlemont, Duckie said: “It feels good because I have always claimed to be one of the best teachers in the game – and my track record speaks to that. We don’t claim to be the best coach. The track record will show you Donovan Duckie has been turning around a lot of teams that are probably at the bottom.
“Charlemont is a young team and it’s a long-term programme. I know exactly what I got myself into, and we are very patient. The school board, they understand that we are not only going to be in it to win it, but it is a work in progress,” he further told The Beacon.
Duckie, who has been at Charlemont for just over a year, said his team’s preparation also was affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic, as well as news that all participating players must be vaccinated against the virus.
He explained: “It was difficult [preparing during COVID-19]. In terms of the preparation, we were in camp at a certain level in terms of fitness and our understanding tactically. But when the message came out about vaccine, everything went out the window. All camp was suspended. It set us back; a big part of the preparation went out the window… You are trying to work with the players virtually, but they are not responsible enough to do the work. But we came back in and had a two-week camp, so basically it’s about 14 days preparation you are looking at [before the daCosta Cup started].”
Duckie also noted that some players were reluctant to take the vaccine.
“We have lost players through not wanting to get vaccinated. As you know, they are not adults and everything is down to the parents. A few parents had their concerns and there is nothing we could do about that… In terms of the squad on a whole, we were pleased with the amount of players that got vaccinated. I would say 98 percent [of them got it],” he disclosed.
Charlemont High, in the meantime, are in Zone H of the competition. Only the two top teams from the zone automatically advance.
Dinthill already did that, and so only one spot remains open.
Ocho Rios High, currently the favourite to fill the remaining slot, are in second position on eight points and have two more matches to play. They lead Charlemont based on goal difference.
Charlemont High, with one match remaining, are on eight points and in third position.
Duckie said: “We have one game remaining and so it is important for us to get full three points and hopefully some slip up would go on in terms of Ocho Rios High game… We have to pick them (players) up and refocus. They are kids, so they will definitely feel downhearted, so we will have to lift them up and motivate them and see what we can get out of the next game.”
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