Judah, Jordan, Tyrese, Yohannes… Wired868 selects its 2017 SSFL All-Star team

Gems at Lajoya

So by now we know the best Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) teams for 2017—Monday’s Coca Cola National Intercol final notwithstanding—but what about the best players?

Once more, Wired868’s SSFL writers take on the thankless task of selecting the best performing players—not necessarily the most talented players, mind you!—in the recently concluded season.

Did we get it right? Whom did we leave out? You be the judge… Not that you need much of an invitation for that!

Photo: Presentation College captain and goalkeeper Jabari Gray makes a flying save to keep out a Judah St Louis free kick during SSFL Premier Division action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella on 27 September 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Roneil Walcott’s All Star Team

Goalkeeper: Jabari Gray (Presentation College, San Fernando)

KFC Munch Pack

Gray guarded his goalmouth territory like a true ‘Lion’ this season and set the tone for Presentation College San Fernando’s maiden voyage to the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division title.

Right-back: Mylz Barrington (Presentation College, San Fernando)

Barrington showed his versatility this season when deployed as a right-winger but the quick, perceptive flanker is at his best at right-back. His timely overlapping runs in support of ‘Pres’ trickster Jordan Riley were another key component in his school’s success.

Centre-back: Yohannes Richardson (Shiva Boys’ Hindu College)

Photo: Shiva Boys HC defender Yohannes Richardson (left) cuts across his teammate Ronald Charles (centre) to tackle Naparima College attacker Mark Ramdeen during the Coca Cola South Zone Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
Ramdeen is a former Shiva Boys’ student.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

He’s got pace, strength, passing vision and a thunderous right-footed shot. The SSFL game has almost become too easy for the versatile Richardson who he is a force to be reckoned with, whether he plays as an athletic, ball-playing stopper or a midfield destroyer.

Richardson has been a consistent performer for Shiva Boys’ over the past three years.

Centre-back: Rondell Payne (Naparima College)

Payne is uncompromising, rugged and one of the hardest tacklers in the SSFL. The passionate ‘Naps’ captain wears his heart on his sleeves and led by example at the back.

Left-back: Matthew Beal (Shiva Boys’ Hindu College)

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College defender Matthew Beal (right) celebrates with a somersault after turning Presentation College upside down in an Intercol South Zone semi-final on 17 November 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Although subject to successful off-the-field protests, the speedy Beal leaves no questions about his playing credentials once he steps on the pitch. With opposing defenders already stretched by the skilful trio of Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel, Judah Garcia and Quinn Rodney, Beal adds to the mix brilliantly with his bombing runs down the left flank and his eye for goal.

Central midfielder: Judah Garcia (Shiva Boys’ Hindu College)

Although viewed by some as self-indulgent, the tricky Garcia merges his dribbling abilities with defensive responsibilities. The Shiva  Boys’ captain—the younger brother of “Soca Warriors” midfielders Levi and Nathaniel Garcia—is often at the heart of his school’s attacking thrusts and was key to their brilliant Intercol run.

Central midfielder: Che Benny (St Anthony’s College)

Whatever Judah St Louis can do from a set piece with his right boot, the diminutive Benny can match—or maybe even surpass—with his left. It’s a surprise that the talent-laden St Anthony’s team ended the season without a trophy but Benny definitely did his bit.

Photo: St Anthony’s College playmaker Che Benny (centre) tries to navigate past three St Mary’s College opponents during SSFL action at Serpentine Road on 4 November 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

His defence-splitting crosses and devilish 25-metre free kicks earn him my pick for the SSFL Player of the Year award.

Central midfielder: Judah St Louis (Naparima College)

Built like a truck, the Naparima powerhouse may not possess the dribbling ability of his Shiva Boys’ Hindu College namesake. However, St Louis has both power and deadly accuracy in his right foot and wowed SSFL fans all over the country with his marvellous dead-ball ability.

Winger: Tyrese Spicer (St Mary’s College)

St Mary’s attacker Tyrese Spicer probably haunted rivals St Anthony’s more than once this season with his turn of pace and wicked left foot. The lanky winger usually flirts on the periphery of a contest but is decisive when he pounces and sparked his fair share of “Raz” spontaneous chants this season.

Photo: St Mary’s College attacker Tyrese Spicer (centre) prepares to volley home the opening goal during North Zone Intercol quarterfinal action against East Mucurapo Secondary at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 9 November 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Winger: Jordan Riley (Presentation College, San Fernando)

The ‘Pres Lions’ were buzzing this season with attacking players like Omri Baird, Darnell Hospedales, Ackeel Jacob and Jaiye Sheppard to choose from but Riley was the pick of the lot. He is a joy to watch once he picks up a full head of steam, and his directness and tenacity make him more than a handful for opposing defenders.

Forward: Brandon Semper (San Juan North Secondary)

Photo: San Juan North Secondary attacker Brandon Semper (centre) fires past St Mary’s College captain Matthaeus Granger (left) during SSFL action in San Juan on Wednesday 13 September 2017.
Semper scored twice but San Juan North had to settle for a 3-3 draw.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

A half of San Juan North’s one-two attacking punch, along with skipper Renaldo Boyce, the tireless and tenacious Semper stepped it up a notch this season by banging in the goals from all angles for the East Zone giants. Surely the best is yet to come from this passionate former National Under-17 player.


Goalkeeper: Shawndell Byer (San Juan North Secondary)

The San Juan keeper had a costly blunder against St Mary’s in his team’s second game of the season. However, since then, Byer has shown commendable handling and shot-stopping ability in safeguarding Bourg’s goal.

Right-back: Stephon Marcano (Fatima College)

Like Presentation’s Mylz Barrington, the calm Marcano is comfortable at either right-back or right-wing and worked diligently on both sides of the ball in coach Wayne Sheppard’s 5-3-2 formation.

Photo: Fatima College flanker Stephon Marcano (centre) slips the ball through the legs of a Malick Secondary player during North Zone Intercol quarterfinal action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 9 November 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Centre-back: Kyle Thomas (San Juan North Secondary)

You do not want to get in a wrestling match with this guy! San Juan’s sturdy and physical defence is built around Thomas’ strong, aggressive tackles and raking, diagonal passes from the back.

Central midfielder: Jodel Brown (St Anthony’s College)

Whether you want to man-mark an opposing threat or provide more thrust in your attacking third; Jodel is your man! The former National Under-17 midfielder is a tireless worker and slick, passer.

Forward: Ronaldo McIntosh (Naparima College)

The lanky, versatile McIntosh, who is nominally a winger, operated in an advanced role for Naparima this season and powered many-a-header past opposing goalkeepers.

Photo: Surrounded by Speyside High players, Naparima College midfielder Ronaldo McIntosh (centre)  runs at the Speyside High defence during SSFL action at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar on 21 October 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Lasana Liburd’s All-Star Team

Goalkeeper: Jabari Gray (Presentation College, San Fernando)

The ‘Pres Lions’ conceded the least number of goals of any team in the Premier Division—12 goals from 14 games—and the ever alert Gray played a big role in that.

Right-back: Mylz Barrington (Presentation College, San Fernando)

Quick and unflappable, you know you’re in for a tough afternoon when you see Barrington lining up against you. He is, arguably, the best full-back in the SSFL.

Central defender: Rondell Payne (Naparima College)

Photo: Shiva Boys’ HC attacker Junior Asson (left) tries to escape from Naparima College defender and captain Rondell Payne during the Coca Cola South Zone Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
Shiva Boys won 2-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Payne is 19 years old but plays as though he is 29. He is quick to spot danger and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. A stalwart for ‘Naps’ this season.

Central defender: Yohannes Richardson (Shiva Boys’ Hindu College)

Richardson was often a footnote in Shiva Boys’ talented squad over the years but not in 2017. The versatile, rugged defender takes no prisoners at the back and, more than once, has delivered the goods at the other end too with his thumping shots and efficient passes. One of the SSFL’s most outstanding performers this season.

Left-back: Matthew Beal (Shiva Boys’ Hindu College)

If anything, Beal played even better once the controversy over his registration—which had nothing to do with him personally—turned the spotlight on the otherwise unassuming defender. Mobile, tigerish and tireless.

Central midfielder: Judah St Louis (Naparima College)

Photo: Naparima College captain Judah St Louis (right) looks for a teammate while St Augustine Secondary defender Jamal Meloney tries to catch up during SSFL action at Lewis Street, San Fernando on 23 September 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

St Louis has excelled in the ‘number 10’ role this season and, eight out of 10 times, he does exactly what the game situation requires of him—whether it is a pass, a shot or a tackle. And his set pieces were almost worth the price of admission by themselves.

It is hard to think of any player who has been as influential for his school as the stocky ‘Smurf’ was for ‘Naps’, although it wasn’t quite enough for my MVP pick.

Central midfielder: Judah Garcia (Shiva Boys’ Hindu College)

His left-footed strike against Naparima College in the South Zone Intercol final was a glimpse of the largely untapped potential within young Garcia. Sure, he can pass and dribble and is blessed with remarkable balance—but the Shiva Boys’ playmaker has the ability to settle games too and ought to push himself more into the attacking third.

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College captain Judah Garcia (left) outwits Presentation College (San F’do) midfielder Darnell Hospedales (centre) during Intercol South Zone semi-finals action on 17 November 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Probably the SSFL’s most gifted player although not quite the most effective.

Winger: Tyrese “Boy Boy” Bailey (St Anthony’s College)

Boy, oh boy… what a talent! A crafty, fearless dribbler with an end product to boot. Bailey is a player you ought to keep tabs on. He is going places– starting with beyond your full-back.

Attacking midfielder: Che Benny (St Anthony’s College)

One of Trinidad and Tobago’s most promising teenage talents, Benny’s set piece wizardry is just half of the package for the St Anthony’s playmaker, whose quick feet and passing range make him a threat from almost anywhere on the field.

Benny is always scheming for a way to unlock the opposing team’s defence and was certainly one of the SSFL’s top players in 2017.

Winger: Jordan Riley (Presentation College, San Fernando)

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) winger Jordan Riley (centre) tries to escape the attentions of a Naparima College opponent during SSFL action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella on 27 September 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Quick, skilful and fearless, the slim-built Riley put terror into the hearts of opposing defences this season. And his consistency and sheer will to win make him my pick for Wired868 Player of the Season.

He was the tipping point for a talented Presentation squad.

Forward: Renaldo Boyce (San Juan North)

There is a shortage of genuine centre-forwards at all levels of the game at present and the SSFL is no different, with several teams opting for makeshift “number nines.”

Boyce is the real deal, though. Strong and tall, the San Juan North skipper can hold the ball up, play the role of battering ram and finish too. His goal tally in the Intercol secures his place in my All-Star XI.


Goalkeeper: Denzil “Peng” Smith (Shiva Boys’ Hindu College)

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College goalkeeper Denzil Smith saves a penalty from Carapichaima East Secondary captain Mecaheil Alexander during the Coca Cola National Intercol semifinals at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 30 November 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Spoken word artist Romero Gowrie suggested that “Peng” has more hands than a sousou. Carapichaima East Secondary would concur after the former National Under-20 custodian saved three penalties in the National Intercol semifinals.

Defender: Matthaeus Granger (St Mary’s College)

Granger is as steady as rent. Smart and efficient, he gets the job done. Always.

Midfielder: Jodel Brown (St Anthony’s College)

Brown plays alongside some extravagant talents at St Anthony’s but, on his day, he outshines them all. He is a genuine box-to-box player with all the tools at his disposal. He is what former “Soca Warriors” head coach Stephen Hart would describe as “a modern player.”

Attacking midfielder: Theophilus Bourne (Carapichaima East Secondary)

Photo: Shiva Boys’ Hindu College stand-in captain Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel (right) holds on to Carapichaima East attacker Theophilus Bourne during SSFL action at Carapichaima on 28 October 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Bourne was Caps’ answer to Riley this season. He is quick, skilful, can operate on either flank and plays every minute like his life depends on it.

Attacker: Ronaldo McIntosh (Naparima College)

McIntosh, the winger-cum-forward, just sneaks into my team ahead of Brandon Semper owing to the latter’s spotty disciplinary record. Simple but effective, McIntosh’s late goal surge brought a largely unexceptional ‘Naps’ team to within an inch of the Premier Division title.

Roneil’s XI: Jabari Gray; Mylz Barrington, Rondell Payne, Yohannes Richardson, Matthew Beal; Judah St Louis, Judah Garcia; Jordan Riley, Che Benny, Tyrese Spicer; Brandon Semper.

Lasana’s XI: Jabari Gray; Mylz Barrington, Rondell Payne, Yohannes Richardson, Matthew Beal; Judah St Louis, Judah Garcia; Jordan Riley, Che Benny, Tyrese Bailey; Renaldo Boyce.

Amiel Mohammed’s XI: Jabari Gray; Mylz Barrington, Yohannes Richardson, Rondell Payne, Matthew Beal; Judah St Louis, Judah Garcia; Jordan Riley, Che Benny, Theophilus Bourne; Brandon Semper.

So what’s your SSFL All-Star XI?

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  1. Never saw the Naps/Shiva centrebacks but if they are better than Matthaeus Granger they have to be exceptional. Granger could easily play in centre midfield too.

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  3. San juan you all talk to much I told you all performance beat old talk

  4. Devon Charles should be there with 9 goals pumping for the school and even more if he was played more and yet no recognition…but I Gods eyes he is recognised thats all he needs

  5. Good squad. Signal Hill goalkeeper was pretty good but Peng and Jabari are good picks. St Anthony’s also has a #5 defender whose name I can’t recall. Top notch.

  6. “Spoken word artist Romero Gowrie suggested that “Peng” has more hands than a sou sou.”

    I fold up with that one time yes

  7. Amiel FullyFocus Mutilal, you have to give us an XI or 18 here at least. 🙂

  8. I thought was ah South Zone team yuh pick yes Lasana Liburd lol

    • I think I saw more South teams and Roneil saw more North and East teams. But south laden with talent to me. Because you still have Quinn Rodney and Rushawn Murphy and Tyrel Emmanuel and Junior Asson who might wonder how the hell they get left out.

    • I agree, the south was laden with talent. And i not just saying that because i from south eh, lol. But u could simply notice it.

    • So why can’t we put a team together that not collecting 8 since we so talented?

    • Malik that’s the other thing.
      Judah St Louis: zero National Caps.
      Judah Garcia: zero National Caps.
      Mylz Barrington: zero National Caps.
      Yohannes Richardson: one national cap.
      Jordan Riley: zero National Caps.
      Che Benny: three National Caps.
      Brandon Semper: two National Caps.
      Tyrel Emmanuel: zero National Caps.
      For a variety of reasons, our standouts are not getting the chance at youth level. But even when they do, they just spend all their time training and are not being exposed to the international game properly.
      Our players always seem to debut in the tournament.

    • Lasana Liburd plain talk we have nothing in place for our youth programs. And contrary to some belief there is talent in our country. Admin has to take some of the blame. After ssfl thats it for the players.

    • Point taken, however, there are also factors such as discipline to be considered as well. Some of the names were in national contention but had their issues with priorities and discipline.

    • Brian Jordan i just didn’t wanna say it, daz why i say admin need to take “some”. But players need to shoulder some blame also. Some of them attitude and work ethics fo the next level needs fixing.

    • Also, just because one is talented on the high school level doesn’t mean that translates to the international level. Two vastly different levels in quality

    • Brent I believe there are players who are just as talented and I’ve been following school football for a long time.
      As I’ve said before, Dwight Yorke was playing international football for seven years already by the time he was 17 and even the players who had no international caps would have been training with and playing against such players and learning.
      These kids don’t have that and that is a lot of knowledge they are missing out on. The boys can play.

    • I don’t necessarily disagree with you. Not that they can’t play, I was basically referring to Malik saying why we can’t out together a team without getting 8. Fact is, I tend to agree with you that these kids cans play but part of the SSFL’s issue is that we basically have a U20 league and if you have a team of 6th formers, odds are you’ll do better. Now I may be way off because I don’t know these players’ ages but when you’re 18 or 19 playing against 16 year olds, it makes a distinct difference

    • Brent Bennett Generally agree, however, good players can be recognized by anyone with an eye for talent in a league format such as this.. Can pick a first and second team easily here, with very little in between..

    • Che Benny, Brandon Semper, Judah Garcia and Tyrese Bailey are under-18. I think Jordan Riley is about 18. But the others are pushing on 20 and you can see the extra maturity in their game.
      So spot on there Brent.

    • Which goes to tell you how good those 4 or 5 are Lasana Liburd…

    • And I think “Pappy” Emmanuel is 18. Study that Brent. He was already too good for the SSFL about a year or two ago.
      But at the same time he is not properly developed for the international game because he is practically no football education outside of the SSFL and second and third tier football.

    • Rochford is under 17 and above average too. Pres has kid named Jacke who is U16 and seriously gifted too. The cupboard isnt bare by any means..

    • But again Brian, check stamps on their passports and caps to see how well we have developed them. We are letting this generation down. But, yes, they are talented.
      I like Jaiye Sheppard too.

    • Lasana Liburd , you know we agree there bro. Not likely to change anytime soon either

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