The three-year wait is over! Actually it’s been forever, as the community has never been able to snatch up a football championship in the past, but that has changed. This current crop of promising youth players in Mon Repos have been considered the group to change the area’s fortunes and have begun to showcase their true potential, winning the 2014 SLFA Royal Club Under 21 Championship.
This Mon Repos team has grown by leaps and bounds. Through the vision of Coach Vance Vitalis, these boys have developed into a team playing attractive and exciting football. With the motto of ‘Teamwork, Respect and Discipline’, Vitalis groomed his players into not only a cohesive unit, but a band of brothers. With his diligence and hunger to achieve success with the group, he has guided his boys from the U17 (Under 17 level), to U18, 19 and now U21.
The team has accomplished many of its set goals over the years. With the coach placing his blueprint on the squad, they have been able to produce some impressive results and stats. Playing in the U18 competition in 2012, they were able to progress through their group and remained undefeated throughout the competition, only to lose to Vieux Fort South in the final.
A disappointing campaign at the U19 level last year left a bitter taste in the mouths of everyone, after being unable to qualify from their group and being knocked out on goal differential. Over-confidence from their finals appearance the previous year had caused their downfall, and they were not prepared to suffer the same fate this year.
This time around, the team qualified from their group, getting past the likes of Dennery, Micoud and Mabouya Valley. Moving on to the next round, they met their ultimate nemesis from the 2012 final, facing Vieux Fort South at the quarterfinal stage. It took an individual piece of brilliance from Mopo winger Mitchum Francis, who sliced and diced through the defense to slot home the solitary goal and lead the team to the next phase with a one-nil victory.
Being only two steps away from the grand prize, Castries Central stood in their way in the semifinal. This time around, Mon Repos managed to penetrate early with a strike from Jamille Goodman, only to concede a controversial equalizer when Emmery Edward’s header was judged to have crossed the line. Neither side could come up with the goods in regulation or extra time, so penalties were needed to settle the affair. As always, penalty shootouts call for players to step up and that’s precisely what the Mon Repos goalkeeper did, as Shem Peter sprung up two great saves, including the spot kick from captain Edward to lead his team to the final.
And so the July 19 final beckoned. Mon Repos faced Gros Islet in the championship decider, and what a game it was. It was a fairly exciting contest, like a game of chess with both teams unyielding and steadfast, defending astutely.
Unable to break the deadlock after the full 90 minutes, the game erupted in extra time. Forward Yod Fevrier splendidly rounded the Gros Islet keeper to give his team the lead. It only took two minutes and one defensive lapse from the Mon Repos defense for the competition’s most lethal striker Aramis Gilbert to slot home a delightful volley of a shot.
With the game locked at one goal apiece, penalties were required to determine a winner. Championships call for consistency as much as performance, and again Shem Peter proved his worth in the final. After another solid display in the game, the Mon Repos goalie produced another memorable performance with yet another two saves in the shootout, leading his team to the cup.
“I had a very good season and I was determined not to lose another final in such a short space of time. After saving two penalties in the semis, I was confident that I would come up big for the team,” said Peter.
This year’s captain Denver Charles was ecstatic.
“I was happy to be captain of the team. The coach made it easy for me to deal with the responsibilities of captaincy because of his trust in me. Throughout the competition, God had always been at the forefront of our victories; we played for each other as a team and accomplished our goals.
It feels great to be the first captain to bring a football championship to the community. Thanks to the coach for his diligence over the past three years, moulding us into the team that he envisioned and sticking with us until we were able to bring a trophy home. Being captain this past competition makes that feeling of accomplishment even sweeter.”
A very proud coach Vitalis expressed his team’s triumph as: “It was a team effort. We had no individual persons doing brilliance with the exception of Shem in the semis and finals, who stepped up big time. But the entire team came together. From day one with this team, I have always instilled in them my alma mater’s motto; The top is reached by striving.”