Sport

KC's Rodgers: A young man for all seasons

Ugandan athlete carves name in KC sport folklore with Manning Cup title, but injury could force him out of track & field quest

HOWARD WALKER
Observer senior reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, December 14, 2018

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The name Arymanya Rodgers will, no doubt, ring synonymous with Kingston College.

The Ugandan, with his all-round athletic ability, has etched his name in the school's football folklore by helping the North Street giants to end a 32-year Manning Cup title drought.

However, it came at a great personal cost for Rodgers, whose eight goals helped to spur his team's title chase. In the final against St George's College, the Ugandan talisman sustained an injury in the epic match that KC dramatically won 3-2.

While Rodgers helped deliver the football trophy to KC, the school's track and field protagnists are worried that football's gain could be athletics loss as the injury to the talent young man could have dire implications for “The Purles” bid to wrestle the Mortimer Geddes trophy from Calabar High, who have clung on for seven-consecutive years.

“My ligaments got torn, but it's getting better now and I am waiting for my doctors for final confirmations,” said Rodgers.

“I hope to be on track as soon as am 100 per cent injury free and I hoping for the best,” he added.

But even in his injury setback, Rodgers is still relishing being a part of the team that ended the football drought at KC.

“It's the best feeling ever to live like a champion,” Rodgers told the Jamaica Observer.

“I feel so proud. Glad to leave a mark and I (will always) remember winning Manning Cup. I hope it gonna bless me with different sports and academic scholarships,” he added.

Rodgers, who turned 18 on December 1, came to Jamaica in 2016 and immediately made an impact in athletics garnering 32 points in two years for the “Purples”.

In his first year, he won the 5,000m and was second in the Class Two 1,500m, then last year he broke the steeplechase open record and was second in the 5,000m open.

Rodgers had established himself a true middle distance runner and a force to be reckoned with at Champs, but not many people knew he was just as good, or even better at football.

“I wanted to be a professional footballer (as) that was my dream. But my uncle, who's a lecturer and coach at Louisiana State University, insisted that I should start tracks which I didn't like. My best is yet to come (in football),” he said.

But some credit must go to KC Coach Ludlow Bernard who saw Rodger's footballing ability and actually wanted him in the team from last year, and he finally got the blessing of principal Dave Myrie to utilise the school's athletics treasure in football.

Bernard drew comparison with Rodgers and former Jamaica striker Paul “Tegat” Davis with his rare qualities and described him as an old school classic centre forward from the 1970s and 1980s.

Rodgers' style sees him regularly picking the pockets of defenders, plus he is very quick, very direct, very intelligent and his off-the-ball movement is second to none.

With KC demolishing everything in front of them in the first round, Rodgers made occasional appearance off the bench, but each time he did, he scored or made several assists Those efforts never went unnoticed, and when things got tight for KC in the second round, he was thrown into into the starting line-up to provide that spark, and more importantly, goals.

After scoring 52 goals from 10 games in the first round, then nine more over two legs in the second round playoff, KC hit a snag and drew 0-0 with St George's College and 1-1 with Charlie Smith in the quarter-final round. With one game remaining, KC were second in the group and faced the leader Camperdown in a must-win situation.

With a starting role, Rodgers delivered by scoring twice as KC won 2-0, moving his tally to eight goals, but more importantly, he propelled KC into the top spot and the semi-finals.

Rodgers told the Observer that was his most gratifying performance in the context of the importance of the match..

“Because it was last game in the group and it was a must-win game, coach entrusted me and gave me my first start of the season and we won 2-0 courtesy of me,” said Rodgers.

“After the game they all thanked and praised me,” he ended.


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