School sports: Meridian JC the dominant force in A Division football

For the past 11 years, Meridian Junior College (MJC) is the team to beat in the Schools National Football Championships A Division as its boys team reign supreme by reaching 10 finals and winning seven times, the latest coming two weeks ago.

Led by head coach Fabio da Silva and coach Nelson Portillo, continuity is the key to the school's dominance in such a competitive sport. The two tacticians have been training MJC since 2005, when it won its first A Division title.

In addition, several of the school's players had been coached since childhood by the two Brazilians at the Canadian Pizza Football Academy.

MJC captain Dagan Lim likened the coaching duo to father figures. "That helps us bond like brothers," the goalkeeper said.

On May 26, MJC claimed the trophy for the seventh time in 11 years beating Nanyang Junior College (NYJC) 3-2 in a final played at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

In a tense match, MJC were up 2-0 in the first-half, only to concede two goals later on. The powerhouse was also rescued by an injury time penalty save from Dagan. The title was won in extra-time when defender Michael Paul Hendrick, trained by da Silva since he was five at his academy, curled home a free-kick.

"This was the best final that we have played so far," da Silva said. "The strength and determination of the boys made all the difference."

Tactics though has been a strong foundation of MJC. Every year, the team is different. What doesn't change though are the coaches' strategies.

"Our coach's tactics work every single time," Faizal Raffi gushed. The top scorer of the 2015 seasons with 24 goals will be joining S-League club Balestier Khalsa after graduation.

If MJC are the strongest male team, VJC are their female counterparts who have dominated the girls competition with seven titles in the past eight years.

This year, the Victorians thrashed MJC 4-0 in the final for their third straight championship. The team's only blemish was conceding the trophy to Raffles Institution in 2012.

On VJC's dominance, the school's head of PE Tan Yew Hwee cited the school's motto "Nothing without labour".

He said: "Our girls takes this motto to heart, and that's what makes us strong each year."

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