By Calvin Chapman
Twenty-year-old shot-stopper Joel Yhap, who had a phenomenal 2019 season, is on a journey to become a regular fixture not only in Fruta Conquerors senior team but to represent the Golden Jaguars.
The 6ft tall lad won three tournaments last year as a starter, namely the Guyana Football Federation (GFF)/KFC Nationwide under-20 Independence Cup, Petra Limacol and Turbo Knockout tourney (both with Conquerors U20 side).
Yhap, who has been a member of Conquerors since 2016, started off as a forward but has now found his true calling as a goalkeeper thanks to Coach, Wayne St. Jules. The youngster explained that he believed that he was initially converted to a goalkeeper because of the vast amount of talented attacking players already at the club at his level; some of whom that have gone on to represent Guyana’s senior men’s team.
He had left the club in 2017 to seek out his football fortunes elsewhere but that didn’t prove successful at Beacons after a trophy-less one year spell. It wasn’t until early 2019 that a move to Santos FC reaped rewards after the popular city club upset powerhouses Conquerors in the semi-finals to then breeze past Dynamic FC 3-1 in the final to win the GFF/KFC youth tourney.
Returning to Fruta Conquerors youth setup was a hard choice for Yhap despite living within walking distance of the Tucville based club because of the successful stint with Santos but he was ready to fight for a place in the youth and eventually senior setup with the GFF Elite league Champions.
He reiterated that, “It was hard going back because I had to fight for my position, up against the talented Simeon Hackett, (brother of Ryan ‘Bum Bum’ Hackett), and after winning that position, I had to train even harder to keep the number one spot in the youth team because I know Simeon’s ability to be exceptional.”
“At Fruta, the youth coach and team really found confidence in me after we won the Limacol tourney, where I was awarded the best goalkeeper of that competition.”
More spotlight landed on the goalkeeper following his and Fruta Conquerors’ youths continued success after winning the 2019 Turbo Knockout competition and it was shortly after, the club’s Head Coach, Sampson Gilbert, invited him to train with the senior team, which he was doing up until the coronavirus pandemic curtailed on field play.
Yhap explained that, “I really was pushing hard, giving it my all for a chance to be recognised and to break into Conquerors senior side because I was relishing the opportunity to feature in the CFU Club Championship which we qualified for after winning the 2019 Elite League but that has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus.
“Such an opportunity to play at that level and excel would not only potentially open doors for me to be spotted by scouts but create opportunities for my club and Guyanese footballers, in general.”
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