Shawn Lawes says while his club Waterhouse FC is taking it one tournament at a time, the far-reaching goal is to get a taste of the glitzy Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL). The Waterhouse captain is aware that to get to regional club football’s promised land, the team from Drewsland will have to first navigate successfully through the second-tier Scotiabank Concacaf League (SCL).
“Yes, it is our dream to go to the [Concacaf] Champions League and we wanted to do that last year, but we fell short by a point.
“So,we are looking to correct our mistakes as a group, and even as individuals, as we keep working hard to get there this time,” Lawes told the Jamaica Observer recently.
Last year, the Jamaican club was eliminated 2-0 at the quarter-final stage by Honduras’ Montagua FC and came up a point short from one of the six automatic qualifiers from the SCL to the SCCL.
Lawes, who led his team in last year’s SCL, remembers the disappointment of coming short.
“We are preparing to go all the way this time as we fell short last year to Montagua FC,” said the powerfully built Jamaican defender.
Waterhouse is set for a Round of 16 against either Haiti’s Arcahaie FC or Verdes FC of Belize, who are set to meet in a preliminary round play-off on October 20.
Waterhouse will then face the winner of that match-up in Kingston on November 3.
Lawes, who is an experienced campaigner in Jamaica’s topflight, says the one-way knockout match against their group of 16 opponent, a schedule tightening measure brought on my COVID-19, should not bring added pressure.
Prior, the SCL was played in a home-and-away, two-match format all the way.
“It’s no pressure as players just have to be professional about any changes COVID has brought to usâ??¦the changes are not just for Waterhouse, it’s for every team, so there is no need for additional pressure to our game,” said Lawes.
The Reggae Boyz defender notes that playing international club football has the potential to present opportunities for players beyond the scope of Jamaica.
“Playing in the competition last year was a great experience, especially for the younger players as they got a taste of international club football.
“It also helped the players to think big in terms of being more professional, to train harder and to just change the whole mindset as a local player,” Lawes said.
Therefore, participating in the SCL could be a springboard for young players holding on to the dream of making it big outside of their island home.
“Playing in these types of competition is definitely a plus, first to be seen by other clubs and scouts. It also helps to build the profile of players and give them a better [pathway] to go to bigger leagues,” said Lawes.
The 27-year-old says Waterhouse, with every competition they contest, aim to make a lasting statement in the SCL.
“The team is definitely looking forward to this tournament and we are happy to be playing at the highest level in our region and we are not here just to participate, but to compete,” noted Lawes.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought a new normal on life in general, and football preparation in Jamaica in particular. Lawes says the club has found creative ways to keep players motivated and engaged.
“It has been challenging, but we have a great staff at Waterhouse, and we trust that whatever we do is for the betterment of the players and for the community.
“As players we are more excited to just be together as a group and family again more than anything else in terms of preparation as we have our team doing Zoom sessions and field sessions where we follow all the necessary COVID-19 protocolsâ??¦ it’s challenging, but as I stated, we have a great staff, so we will get where we want to eventually,” Lawes stated.
The former Norman Manley and Calabar High student says beyond playing for his club Waterhouse, he is looking to cement his place in the Boyz squad as the Theodore Whitmore-coach team looks to the Concacaf Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers next year.
“For me, I am eyeing the World Cup qualifying squad, so I’m prepared to do the necessary work to get into the squad and to be a permanent player there,” Lawes concluded.
— Sean Williams
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