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Nigel “Grovy” Grosvenor is a stalwart of the Secondary Schools Football League’s (SSFL). Last year, the T&T Football Association (TTFA) recognised him as one of the SSFL’s top all-time coaches.

Among his accolades, he had led his former school St Anthony’s College to six national titles and countless other zonal titles.

However, last year after 34 years with the “Tigers” he chose to part ways with the school in pursuit of a change of scenery. He switched red for blue and title challenges for relegation battles when he opted to sign with Tigers’ North Zone rival Queens Royal College (QRC) in the Premier Division.

Guardian Media Sports met with “Grovy” after his team’s final match of the season, where his QRC outfit pulled off a miraculous 2-2 draw with title challenger Naparima College to go ninth in the 15-team table to survive relegation.

Jonathon Matouk went One-on-one with Grovy before his final SSFL duel in league for 2017.

Question: What was your first season as the head coach of QRC like?

Answer: “It was challenging, leaving St Anthony’s and coming to QRC and I knew it would have been a challenge. I suppose it brought back some sort of youth in me. I got revived, starting fresh and seeing what I could do so I was looking forward to it. The season was challenging but we worked on it.

When we came back from pre-season we were hit with an injury to both our starting and substitute keepers so we had to turn to our Under-15 keeper and he had no idea that he was going to play for the senior squad. This offset everything because your keeper is one of the main players in the squad.

He conceded soft goals due to inexperience and that happened throughout the season until our starting keeper returned to fitness. And we had injuries in between that to some of our other senior players.

“So I’m very satisfied that the guys stuck together despite the lack of confidence derived from the young guy between the sticks. Where we are now, I’m feeling so pleased that the boys stuck together despite all the adversaries we had and with where we are right now.”

Q: What drove you to make the initial decision to switch schools and has that decision brought you personal satisfaction?

A: “It was getting a little monotonous at St Anthony’s after coaching there for 34 years. Things were going good and I wanted to finish off my career with the school. I had a little sickness, which kept me back from coaching the team last year but I wanted to finish off my coaching career at the school.

Unfortunately, there were incidents that happened that meant I could not have done that. When I came to QRC I was really pleased to come here because QRC is an institution so it wasn’t a let down. Coming here was a step forward.”

Q: Is there a distinct difference in talent level between QRC and St Anthony’s?

A: “When I came here (to QRC), I saw that we only had about three or four quality players, the rest of the team were good but they weren’t into football like these other guys. What happened with QRC is that when the football season finishes, they’re finish. They don’t play football again until the following year. They are focused on their books, which is good but it was a challenge. When we play against teams like St Anthony’s and other title challenging teams the players for these teams play for Pro League teams when the season is finished. The QRC players do not do that.”

Q: What are the next steps for the continued development of the QRC football programme?

A: “The first goal is to stay in the Premier Division and start to build the programme after. The division is very difficult and when the season finishes 90 per cent of the other teams will have players playing for Pro League junior teams so when the season starts they are one step ahead of the school.

I had to start with the basics of football when preparation for the season starts. This makes it hard to challenge. What I am going to do is start an academy with everybody and start from the grassroots up with the Under-14s to have a foundation and start with the basics for the guys coming up next year. So when the season starts we will be on par with the other teams.”

Q: What’s next for Grovy?

A: “The principal of the school told me that he will have me coaching for the next two to three years. If they fire me or get rid of me, fine, but I am not going to leave on my own. I am a man of commitment, I came here and I like what I have experienced with the school and the kids. They are very disciplined they are concentrated and they show great commitment that’s why they stay afloat in the league. Once you have that commitment everything comes easy after that.”

LATEST SSFL STANDINGS

TEAMS P W D L F A GD PTS
1. St Anthony’s 13 9 3 1 42 20 22 30
2. Naparima 13 9 3 1 30 13 17 30
3. Presentation 12 8 2 2 28 14 14 26
4. San Juan North 14 6 6 2 35 16 19 24
5. Shiva Boys HC 12 7 1 4 29 18 11 22
6. Fatima 12 6 1 5 17 17 0 19
7. Trinity East 12 5 3 4 21 13 8 18
8. Carapichaima 14 5 3 5 3 21 2 18
9. St Mary’s 12 4 4 4 27 26 1 16
10. QRC 14 4 3 7 23 30 -7 15
11. St Augustine 13 4 1 8 24 32 -8 13
12. St Benedict’s 13 3 4 6 19 27 -8 13
13. Signal Hill 13 2 3 8 13 27 -14 9
14. Trinity Moka 11 2 2 7 13 30 -17 8
15. Speyside High 14 2 1 11 8 49 -41 7