When preparations begin for the upcoming schoolboy football season, a new man will be at the helm for Wolmer's Boys.
Long-time assistant coach Alex Thomas was, on Friday, introduced to the school population at devotion by principal Dr Walton Small. The 35-year-old will replace Rudolph Speid, who guided the Heroes' Circle-based school after taking over from Vassell Reynolds, who occupied that position previously. Thomas should have some stability as his appointment will be for three years.
"After the season ended and heading into the New Year, I received a little bit of feedback, which kind of put me in the frame of mind to expect such an appointment," Thomas shared with The Sunday Gleaner.
The elevation to the top job was reward for a man who has distinguished himself as an assistant Manning Cup coach and head coach for the Under-16 programme.
"I have been here since 2009 as an assistant coach as well as coaching the Under-16 team, during which time I have won every title there is to win except the Manning Cup. So with that said, I think I have proven myself as capable of doing the job," explained the man who holds an Advanced Level II coaching certificate from the JMMB/UTech/JFF Coaching School.
Thomas, who represented Wolmer's as a schoolboy before being awarded a scholarship to the North American Ivy League Prep School, Loomis Chaffee, has had an outstanding career as a youth player. He captained Jamaica's first team to qualify for a youth World Cup, the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand. He followed that up by participating in the second Jamaican youth team to qualify for a World Cup, the 2001 FIFA Under-20 World Cup held in Argentina and captained by his elder brother, Shavar Thomas.
Alex Thomas had one cap for the senior team, which he earned in the Lunar Cup played in China under Bora Milutinovic.
His entry into coaching came after a two-year course of study at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and while he was turning out for Rivoli United in the Premier League. He previously represented his home club, Arnett Gardens.
"I was playing in a Premier League game for Arnett Gardens versus Tivoli Gardens and got a knee injury. I was on crutches for a while, and each time I tried to get back out and play, the knee didn't feel right, so I decided that that was it where playing was concerned. I subsequently went to G.C. Foster for two years to complete my certification"
"In the 2008-09 season, I was playing for Rivoli United and got a call from Mr Ludlow Bernard, my mentor, who was just appointed at Wolmer's, asking me to be his assistant, which, for me, was a very big thing. I never had any coaching experience at the time, but it was an opportunity that changed my life. I just packed up and went, and I have not set foot on a football field as a player after that call," said Thomas about his journey into coaching.