Christoper Furlong, a Feyenoord Rotterdam and Blauw-Wit Amsterdam winger in Holland during the late 60’s and early 70’s, is back at his hometown club, Point Fortin Civic, for a second stint as coach—but first in the Digicel Pro League.
Furlong, a former Grenada national team and Olympic team coach, also had coaching stints with Kingston Lions in Jamaica, Lambada in Barbados, Science International in Canada and Secondary Schools League outfits Fyzabad and his alma mater St. Benedict’s College in Trinidad. His most recent coaching stint, prior to returning to Civic, was at Grenada national league side Paradise FC.
Furlong, who believes T&T is in much need of a national academy for football due to the low standard of play and football knowledge even at the national level, has broken down his ambition for Civic into the stages of: developing players, lifting the standard of play, then getting the players to the point where they can become exportable.
“We will see a lot of improvement [at Civic] over time,” said Furlong, a former Civic and T&T national teammate of De Leon, Warren Archibald, Steve David and Wilfred Cave. “We will play quality football – not that I am saying we are going to win the league [just yet] but the aim is to give a good account of ourselves.”
However Furlong, who also enjoyed playing stints in the North American Soccer League (NASL) with Kansas City Spurs and Dallas Tornadoes, conceded that the players of his hometown community of Point Fortin aren’t as passionate as before.
Civic, on debut in 2013/14, finished in an admirable fourth position at the end of the season under Carrington, who, after a string of abysmal performances, was replaced by De Leon beyond the halfway mark in 2014/15. De Leon in the position as caretaker hit the ground running and finished Civic in a creditable fifth position. But last season, continuing in the post as head coach, an eight place finish on the 10-team table brought an end to De Leon’s time in charge.
Civic’s chairman, Garthorn Craig, said it was a mutual decision following discussions with De Leon, who remains a Board member.
“It was based on performance,” Craig said. “He (De Leon) started brilliantly but it didn’t go well after that and he understood this. The results weren’t what we expected and we weren’t where we wanted to be at the end of the season. Now we are happy to go with another son of the soil.”
The mandate for Furlong, according to Craig, is to develop the relatively young squad to be competitive but while there is time to allow development, the plan is not to “just roll over and die” this season.
Civic have added competition to their goalkeeping department with Callum Marshall and Tevin Moore who will compete with regulars shot-stoppers Akini Adams and Miles Goodman for starting positions.
Kurfi Pierre, Trent Lougheed, Shequille Stewart, Shevon Abraham, Keron Neptune, Kerlon Richards, Shane Garraway, Ancil Wells and Orin Branker make up defensive options while veteran player Nickcolson Thomas, Akeem Redhead, Shaquille Dublin, Rondell Phillip, Necarlon Tuton, Tyrell Johnson and Kestwin Goolie are midfielders. While Jamille Boatswain, Sylvester Teesdale, Austin Hernandez, Tereek Joseph and 25-year-old United States-born Nigerian Kehinde Olakunie will compete for starting positions up front.
“Our team are a team in progress although I can say there is some ability and enthusiasm present,” continued Craig. “We have a lot of young players based on our budget, as we were unable to keep some of the more experienced players.”
Civic will kick-off their 2016/17 campaign at home when the host Morvant Caledonia United from 7:30pm at the Mahaica Oval on Friday September 30 following a 5pm kick-off between Club Sando and San Juan Jabloteh at the Point Fortin venue.