All about the vibes
“Thank You Grovy” tee-shirts have even been printed for the occasion. Grosvenor holds one up and nods his approval.
The 59-year-old would have revelled in the moment in the best of times, but he does so especially now, in times that are not the best.
This is not a radiation treatment day for Grosvenor, but there are too many such days in his life now. They are necessary to beat back the prostate cancer with which he was diagnosed back in July.
“When I first found out I had it,” he said, his voice strong, “it really shook me because you not expecting to hear that.”
For a man who had won so many battles from the sidelines, personally guiding St Anthony’s, his “Tigers” to seven national titles, not to mention numerous zonal accolades, this is the biggest fight yet. But he and his “team” are up for it.
“I went home and told my family, my wife and children” he continues, “and I was really feeling down eh, but they were positive. My ‘lil daughter said ‘Daddy, doh worry ‘bout it’.”
Grovy would not be human if at that early stage he didn’t worry, a lot. That night sleep wouldn’t come. But while watching TV at 3am the next morning, a personal transformation took place.
“I don’t know what happened pardner,” he explains, “I just start to smile, and I felt good; I said, ‘nah boy, yuh beating this thing, and from then on it was just positive vibes...People just pouring a lot of positive vibes into me.”
The words are spoken in the same strong, deep voice with which Grosvenor always speaks, maybe in tones a tad lower than those he would use in his team talks. And one could not help but get the impression that this health battle is getting the same vigorous treatment that Grosvenor gives to his football assignments.
It’s all about the vibes.
When the “Tigers” take to the pitch, they play to a certain rhythm: fast, attacking, showing skill on the ball.
It has been a style cultivated over three decades.
“Sometimes you have to think eh,” he begins. “The majority of players we have had over the 30-something years were short, small, skilful...When you small, you have to play quick, you have to be fast. And the football today is fast, speed, so that has fitted into our style of football.”
He adds: “Evans Wise, Ricky Aleong, Shane Pierre...those guys were skilful!
A degree in physical education to his name but no coaching badges, Grosvenor has still seen St Anthony’s carve a large spot in the schools football landscape. He and his staff have used common sense, a careful study of the sport and good players to their advantage. Plus, there is Grovy’s great passion. He has lost none of it.
The operation in July, and then radiation treatment meant that he was not able to coach the team this year. But “coach” could not stay away.
“I tried to come around...When we played Trinity and had Trinity like 5-0 or 6-0, I still caught myself coaching,” he laughs. “If you see me behind the goalpost...”
But then he adds: “And I went home and started to feel sick because of the excitement, so I said, well look, doh go back there.”
Once his health permits however, Grosvenor plans to be back on the bench next year, whether at St Anthony’s--if they would have him-- or somewhere else.
And free of the responsibility of teaching, he plans to start his own academy with one of his past players, a certain Carlos Edwards.
“He’s so anxious and excited about it, to open up an academy with me because he had that idea too,” Grosvenor says.
The coach and the 2006 World Cup hero have long been a dynamic duo, Edwards being the star man when St Anthony’s won their first national InterCol against St Benedict’s College at a teeming Queen’s Park Oval back in 1997.
Schools football has changed much since those days, and not necessarily for the better. Grosvenor accepts that. He admits that coaching youngsters these days is harder with all the “distractions.” But don’t tell him the SSFL has outlived its usefulness.
“That is totally unfair,” he says with all the strength he can muster.
To those in the Professional League who feel that way, he makes his case.
”Football is not just going on the field and playing. Football is not just, you call a player and put down cones and say okay, I will make you a great footballer. Football has evolved. It’s like a science, it’s more of a holistic thing. You need an education, and I keep telling people that,” he says.
“You need to think. That is where football is now. The last set of players that we had that could pass with only their skill alone would be the Latapy and the Yorke. The days way, way back when we had the Gally Cummings and so on, it’s no longer that.
People now studying this game, so you could have all the skill in the world now, barring Messi and a coach will out-think you. They will put a system in place where you will find it very hard. That is why I have a problem with this national team where a student will have six, seven, eight passes, talented, goes on a scholarship to university and they wouldn’t call them back. That’s it for them.
“They prefer them to play in the Pro League down here. I have a serious, serious problem with that! (Because) not only you have a guy now who is very talented but is also educated, so you gonna put the two together, so that kid will be more coachable than a normal kid. We here, Secondary Schools Football League and St Anthony’s College is not just about the football. It’s about socialising, it’s a holistic thing and people don’t understand that.”
He would like to see a partnership between the schools and the Pro league clubs.
“What I would love to see is a Pro League team adopt a school,” he says. “Give the school the resources; give the school the finances in terms of football equipment and then, you don’t like the coach, or you feel you need somebody that could assist that coach, you send that person.
“Schools could develop Under-14 to Under-18 teams for clubs if the clubs provide off-season assistance for training, fitness trainers, provide access to gym facilities. If they come to us with that, we would gladly accept....You producing your feeders.”
He has lots to say, and with much feeling about the game that has been a part his entire professional life. As we spoke, one couldn’t help but feel that much more can be done to make better use of the human resources the country has in football, men like Nigel Grosvenor.
But it is now Monday morning. The talk was too much for one sitting.
The Football Lime that ended at 2 a.m. on Sunday is now part of 2016’s history.
“Real people came,” he relates. “People show up, people show up. People I ‘ent see in years, and years and years; footballers come out, all out.”
Even Kenwyne Jones, star of the all-conquering 2003 team was there.
“He said it was the best event easily for the year he went to,” says Grovy.
“The nice thing was, they were all in different groups, different eras and all of them were just reminiscing, and all I was doing, I was just walking around to the different groups. Every group I went to had some memory that they cherished...It was just fun, fun, fun.”
The vibe was good. Grovy is good.