Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Gilbert hopes Excelsior’s footballers will win scholarships

Published:Saturday | September 17, 2022 | 12:08 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Coach Xavier Gilbert.
Coach Xavier Gilbert.

Excelsior High School has geared its football programme not just to add to its tally of seven Manning Cup titles, but also to equip its players to play for Jamaica and to win scholarships. That’s the word from the school’s head coach, Xavier Gilbert.

Gilbert outlined the approach Excelsior takes with football.

“We have developed a curriculum that the coaches work towards to ensure we develop the young student athletes as best as we can and prepare them, not only just for the school competitions, but on a wider scale to represent Jamaica and to get scholarships moving overseas because that’s one of our main objectives, to get as many student-athletes to take up the opportunity of scholarships,” the national women’s coaching staff team member explained.

Excelsior started its Group F campaign with a 0-0 draw with a compact Kingston Technical team on September 11. As good as the visitors to Excelsior’s Mountain View Avenue home were, Gilbert felt nerves were a factor for his charges.


“For the first game, the jitters, some nervousness and the pressures that come with it. First game at home, being televised and for some of them, it was their first outing in the Manning Cup,” he evaluated.

The school’s first objective is to emerge from what he anticipates will be a tough group and qualify for the next round. The goal was advanced on Thursday when Excelsior trounced Cumberland High 6-0 at home. “Every school, every coach is trying to make their mark and persons are working hard. Also, the two-year absence as it relates to COVID-19, some persons did not get to participate as much, so their development and their coaching and training and that sort of thing is not at the same level,” he cautioned before advising, “it is what it is, and we just have to do what we have to do and ensure that we make it out of the group. That’s our first objective.”

The big win wouldn’t have been a surprise. Gilbert had expected the team to do better in their second game.

“I anticipate that we’re going to do better in tomorrow’s game than the first game and now that it’s out of the way, now their feet are wet, and the little nerves, not so much pressure. It’s not going to be a televised game,” Gilbert said on Wednesday.

He was right. Goals from Lennon Green, Stephen Bailey, Nickalia Fuller, Richard Andrews in the first half, and substitutes Dale Fuller and Dante Bert in the second did the damage against Cumberland.

One Excelsior player to watch this season is rugged midfielder Antwan Johnson.

“He played last year, as well and we expect him to lead the troops and while he’s on the field, to execute the game plan,” Gilbert said.