A jubilant Janabiyah Juggernauts squad got its hands on the Bahrain Amateur Football League (BAFL) trophy last night after an impressive campaign saw the club surge to its maiden title.
Having already mathematically secured the crown with a victory over second-placed Muharraq Youth before Ramadan, the long-awaited presentation finally took place on the pitch of the Bahrain Rugby Football Club amid wild scenes of jubilation from the team.
BAFL founder and president, Colin Kerr, handed over the cup after a 3-3 draw with Juventus U23 saw the Juggernauts round off their campaign, finishing on 29 points from 12 games with a goal difference of +29.
After the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed the BAFL’s inaugural season last year, there were no such issues this time around as the full complement of fixtures was fulfilled, with the seven teams playing each other home and away in full 11-a-side, 90-minute matches.
“It’s been a fantastic year for the BAFL and I offer my congratulations to the Janabiyah Juggernauts on claiming the title for the 2021-22 season,” Kerr said. “The standard of football has been excellent throughout the year and every game has been very competitive, with the majority of matches going down to the wire.
“What differentiates the Juggernauts this year is their ability to dig in when required and tighten up at the back to hold on to three points, or their determination to push for a late winner and sneak a win.
“I’d like to say thank you to all teams that have been involved this year and long may the success of the BAFL continue. We hope to expand the league next season and expect it to be a big ask from the Juggernauts to retain the title, as everyone else will be out for them!”
The never-say-die attitude of the Juggernauts has been instilled by the dynamic duo of club manager Elliott Fribbens and first team coach Sean Brereton, who have transformed the club’s fortunes with a combination of strong player recruitment and increased discipline on-and-off the pitch.
The team trains for two hours every week, focusing on both fitness and skills, while a pool of more than 30 players ensures that there is healthy competition to improve and fight for starting places.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with committed players who love to train and play,” Brereton, who is also the head coach and founder of the 24N Football Academy, said. “We have a focused dressing room with lots of big characters who have steered us through some tough games with their strong personalities. Character has won us just as many games as talent this season.
“We got together after the summer break last year with the long-term goal of winning the league, and I’ve been coaching the players to achieve that. Eight months later, we have done that and the commitment of everyone by buying into what I’ve been trying to get across has been paramount.
“This is the first part of a wider vision. We’re going to enjoy this win, but we haven’t finished yet.”
Indeed, this is not the Juggernauts’ only chance of silverware this season. The league and cup double is still on as they face the Dilmun Club in the final of the BAFL Cup on May 26.
Muharraq Youth secured the BAFL Shield in March, defeating the Juggernauts on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes in the semi-final before dispatching the Bahrain Rugby Football Club in the showpiece.
Founded in 2017 by former Bahrain resident Ryan Conway, ‘the Jugs’, as they are affectionately known by their fan base, have risen from a social football group to a full international squad with a professional attitude and have their sights set on more glory in the coming years.
“When Conway handed the club over to me last year when he left the island, I knew I had big boots to fill.” Fribbens explained. “Fast-forward 12 months and what a season to look back on! This has been the most fruitful season in our five-year history and we haven’t even finished yet.
“To be able to bring players from all over the world together and merge such different styles of play into one vision has been a fantastic experience. I could not be any more proud of all of our players who have all provided their own individual input into the season, whether that be on the pitch or off it.
“I’d like to thank Sean Brereton for his vision and work on the training pitch, and our sponsors for allowing the club to grow. Most of all, thanks to our families, fans and followers for allowing us to fulfil our dreams and ambitions. Up the Jugs!”
Any teams interested in joining the BAFL for the 2022-23 season can contact the league by emailing [email protected]