In 2010 a group of community members came together to form the Old Harbour United Football Club with one ultimate dream in mind – to play in the premier league.
Several years later their quest remains firmly on track.
In fact the journey is gathering momentum after they won the St Catherine Major League back in April – their biggest achievement to date.
This has propelled them into the Southern Confederation Super League next season, which is one step away from rubbing shoulders with the country’s elite football clubs.
Devroy Gray takes home Golden Boot, MVP awards
An air of togetherness hung around this club which was evident throughout last Sunday’s awards ceremony at the JPS Sports Club in Old Harbour Bay. Each recipient beamed with pride on their way to the podium. It was their night to shine and rightly so.
But the central theme throughout the three-hour ceremony, which ended about two hours before midnight, was getting the club to the very top in football.
An important component driving this dream has been Gore Developments Limited, a prominent construction firm in the country investing $1,000,000.00 into the club over the last two seasons.
Financial support from elsewhere, has also contributed to their success, while other individuals played important roles in kind and were duly recognized on the night.
“We are truly happy for the partnership and the role it has played thus far in mutual support of one to the other. For all of us at Gore Developments it really shows that hard work, commitment, discipline has paid off,” said Pauline Lewis, legal assistant, Gore Developments.
More than half of the club’s players are from this fishing community, which lies on the island’s southern coastline. Many of them have been friends since their childhood days. But they have forged a bond that grows stronger with every day that passes, even amidst flare-ups of violent crimes and the negative stigma of being regarded as a major transshipment point in the drugs for guns trade between Jamaica and Haiti.
But the management team led by club president Errol Cobourne along with his chief lieutenant, vice president Steve Dixon, has done a remarkable job so far.
“When Old Harbour Bay United started we saw where there was plan. A plan to have a good youth programme,” said Peter Reid, the long-serving president of the St Catherine Football Association. “More than 50 per cent of players playing now for Old Harbour Bay United came through their youth programme.
“When you have a programme and you have vision it will come to fruition and tonight is an example of that.”
Another key club figure impressed with the running of the organization is experienced coach Vassell Reynolds, who has coached at the premier league level before.
After their victory over Federal in the final, Reynolds says he “realized the significance of the achievement” as the St Catherine Prison Oval was invaded by Old Harbour Bay supporters after the final whistle.
The former Humble Lion coach said: “I would have worked with premier league teams and super league teams; and the small management group of people you have are some people that have the community and the players at heart. I find that they are pretty much organized much more than management at a higher level that I would have worked with and that is what you want sometimes to be successful.”
“From I came here this evening I keep hearing the notion of the premier league and it must be the ambition of the club to go to the premier league” said Laurence Garriques, who delivered the keynote address.
In outlining what he believes to be three main pillars on which a successful club is built, Garriques, a lecturer in at the University of the West Indies in the faculty of science and sports, said: “We can use football as another means of community development.”
Speaking in the context of Paul Pogba’s world record transfer fee from Juventus to Manchester United, Garriques added: “We need to seriously have a look at what we are doing and how best can we reach these kinds of heights.
“You can imagine how much development, how many resources, how many families and how much the community will change if Old Harbour Bay United had a Paul Pogba amongst you?”
But perhaps Lewis offered the best advice on the night, reminding the club that “today’s success is the beginning of tomorrow’s greatness”.
They have been true to their motto: “A team above all, above all a team”.
Undoubtedly Old Harbour Bay remains united to achieve its dream of one day playing in the premier league.