By Neto Baptiste
The Coordinator of Schools Football within the Ministry of Sports, Rowan Benjamin, has heralded the intervention of a group of individuals present at the newly renamed Keithley Sheppard Recreational Park, formerly King George V Grounds, on Wednesday, as he believes their timely intervention may have prevented serious injury to players and others following a schools’ football match at the venue.
“I want to really big them up this morning because it probably could have escalated into something worse, but because of their intervention — and the young man did get some licks in terms of the guy who came looking for trouble after the game — I must say that these people did a wonderful job in terms of protecting these children of PMS.
“So I want to really big them up from the bottom of my heart and I consider them to be heroes,” he said.
Reports are that a group of young men — who are not affiliated with any of the two schools playing at the venue on Wednesday — attacked a player following the Boys Under-20 clash between Princess Margaret School (PMS) and the Ottos Comprehensive School (OCS).
Benjamin said he had been given assurances by the police that officers would have been present at the venue for the highly anticipated clash.
“We were given the assurance that they would try their best to get officers at the venue and [had anyone gotten injured I would take responsibility] because I am the organiser through the Ministry of Sports.
“What we are failing to look at here is that it could have been one hour after the game that incident could have happened, but there was nothing in terms of the game itself. It was a beautiful game that everybody came there to watch and enjoy,” he said.
One spectator at the game, Joanne Richardson, called in to the Good Morning Jojo sports show to give her account of what transpired on Wednesday.
“They started throwing stones at PM players and when the game finished, PM huddled to the east side with their coach. A guy in a black shirt and mask, a couple of them came up. We noticed so I said to the coach that I will take some of the children home in my vehicle and Mr King, who is a teacher at the school said he will take some of the boys with him because there was no bus there yet.
“Moving that game from Radio Range into the heart of Grays Farm is not a preventative measure. All we saw was a group of young men in black fire off at the PM school boys and one child ran away from the crowd and started running around the park,” she said.
Ironically, Wednesday’s match had previously been stopped prematurely for similar reasons after some individuals reportedly threatened a PMS player at the Radio Range playing field.
OCS claimed the match, 2-1, to book their spot in the semifinals.