The highest level Strong youth programme “They have a pretty strong youth programme in Barbados and I must say it’s better than in Jamaica,” Samuels added. Dominik was captain of his prep school team in Barbados and when he moved to Jamaica at age 11, also captain Sts Peter and Paul Prep School team for one year, before moving on to Campion College. “It was a good experience because their structure is a bit different. They play hard ball and being a part of the training squad – because the boys were two or three years older – helped me. I’ve played not only local players there, but also from England and visiting teams,” Samuels said. Samuels has been outstanding in the Grace Shield, scoring 782 runs this season. The batting all rounder also scored four centuries, with a top score of 136 not out against St George’s College and three half centuries. He helped Campion reach the semi-finals of the Grace Shield and led them to the title last season. For Samuels, it isn’t only about playing sport. The Jamaica and West Indies youth representative believes in balancing academics as well. Having earned a government scholarship to Campion, he has been on the school’s honour roll every year since. Now in the fifth form, he will do nine subjects at the Caribbean Examinations Council level later this year. SOME might say that cricket is a dying sport in Jamaica. But 16-year-old Dominik Samuels does not appear to be one who believes that. The Campion College Grace Shield team member has been playing cricket since he was four years old and in 12 years of playing at the prep and high school levels, his passion for the sport has never waned. While his father Raymond played Headley Cup cricket as a student of York Castle High, it was while still a young boy living in Barbados that Dominik’s love for the game really developed. “I influenced him, but I think the turning point for him was when I was on vacation and we were in St Ann and his cousin who was a couple of years older played cricket and he saw his cousin playing. We lived in the Bahamas, he started playing, but they don’t really play cricket in the Bahamas so there was no opportunity. I relocated to Barbados and at age five he really got to play cricket because they have a really strong prep school competition there,” the elder Samuels explained. While there, he also played for Wanderers Cricket Club and got the opportunity to play in camps with older and more experienced boys. “I’m certainly looking to play for the West Indies in the future, to play at the highest level of cricket. But I still want to balance my cricket and academics as well,” he said. “It’s a matter of time management really. I have to make timetables and understand that if I want to be successful I know how much work I have to put out so I can train in the evening,” he added. Having the strong support of both his parents who attend his games also helps, he said. As for the future, he wants to attend a school in the United Kingdom, where he can continue to pursue his cricketing goals. “Cricket is a game where you have to be disciplined and patient and you have to understand that things take time and you have to be diligent in what you do and cricket also taught me that when you fight out of tough situations you always come out with good results,” he said.
On the face of it, when the whistle blows at the Montego Bay Sports Complex this afternoon at 4 p.m., or whenever, signalling the start of the 2016 Red Stripe Premier League final, promoted team and multiple champions Portmore United should start as favourites. The team, which originated in the parish of Clarendon under the name Hazard before changing base to Portmore in St. Catherine but now straddles both parishes, has been the most consistent this season. That consistency saw them crowned ‘League’ champions as they ended the regular season with the most points and were duly rewarded with the $1m bonus. Additionally, Portmore United have owned Montego Bay United (MBU) on the three occasions that they have met this season. In their match, which marked their return to top-tier football, they defeated Montego Bay United 2-0, with Montego Bay resident Ricardo Morris responsible for one of them. That was followed up with a 1-0 win at the Juici field, courtesy of a Cleon Price strike. Morris was again on the score sheet along with Tramaine Stewart and Mark Alves as Portmore United left Montego Bay with a 3-1 win in the last meeting. QUALITY TEAM Even with the evidence, which is helped by the depth of their available squad, Portmore United coach Jeffrey Hewitt will not accept the favourites’ tag. “To me, MoBay will be starting favourites. This is their third consecutive final and that shows that they are very consistent. They are quality team and their record speaks to that, so no one can take anything away from them,” said Hewitt who was a part of Portmore United’s coaching staff when they won in 2008 and 2012. “Despite that, we are confident in our abilities and what we can do. Yes, we have beaten them in the three matches that we have played so far, but the past does not matter now. What matters is what we do on the day,” added Hewitt. According to the man who distinguished himself at Garvey Maceo, the Portmore United unit is so focused right now that nothing will distract them. Not even the protest action by MBU, which has seen them boycott a number of promotional events leading up to today’s big day and them threatening not to show up for the 4 p.m. start. “We are so focused that we are not entertaining any thoughts of them turning up or not. We are preparing for a 4 p.m. game and we will be showing up for that. “Tomorrow’s game, we are anticipating, will be a very competitive one. It is a final and our players know what is at stake and we have to go out there and compete,” he added. VERY OPEN While the Portmore United camp has been very open, the Montego Bay United camp has not so much as entertained a call or interview request from the media in relation to today’s game. The Sunday Gleaner, however, managed to speak with someone close to the camp. “My players are ready for the game. They have not been distracted by what is going on, and they will be showing,” the source said. “This is the third final that the team has been in, the past three years, and this is important to us. The first year, we won; last year, we came second; and this year, we are going out to win again. “Even if it is nine players, we are going to play them. No team can beat Montego Bay United four times in a season,” the source added. In addition to the record going against them, Montego Bay United have the offfield distractions which could spill over on the field going against them. Add to that the absence of two of their most potent players – Owayne Gordon, the season’s leading scorer to a loan deal, and Dino Williams to an injury. Allan Ottey is the only one available of that pacy and skilful trio. A lot will depend on the former schoolboy star who shone alongside Portmore’s Morris for St James High. Injury kept him out for chunks of the season, but he will have to lead the forward line with support from Cory Hylton. Goalkeeper Jacomena Barrett is a player with a lot to prove as he is a former Portmore United player and conceded three goals in the last match. Losing again will not sit well with him. If he reports in inspired form as he has been on occasion, he could lift his teammates. With almost everything stacked against them, this could be the motivation the Montego Bay United players need to pull off the improbable victory.