Wed, Aug

‘Charles-Fevrier must discontinue as U-15 coach’

At­tor­ney Pe­ter Tay­lor threw his un­equiv­o­cal sup­port for Un­der-15 coach Stu­art Charles-Fevri­er, “to re­main as his lo­cal choice to get us there.”

His pre­sen­ta­tion was made in the wake of a se­ries of sub­par per­for­mances in re­cent­ly con­test­ed “de­vel­op­men­tal tour­na­ments” both on lo­cal soil and in Flori­da. There was a siz­able bud­get used over this re­cent two-year project.

Be­fore I share my thoughts, I must do two things. First, I must thank Mr Tay­lor for his ser­vice to the na­tion in his pre­vi­ous min­is­te­r­i­al ca­pac­i­ty. Sec­ond, I share that I have known “Stu­ar­tie” for just shy of 40 years. I played along­side “Stu­ar­tie” for the na­tion’s first pro­fes­sion­al team, ASL Unit­ed, in 1980 along­side many famed foot­ballers as with my Es­sex team­mate, Noel “Sam­my” Llewe­lyn and ri­val-friend Ron La For­est.

Stu­ar­tie is a gen­tle­man and nev­er boast­ful or hos­tile. He was a stal­wart de­fend­er and the con­sum­mate team­mate. His num­bers as head coach of W-Con­nec­tion are leg­endary.

All that said, the call by two lead­ing foot­ball per­son­al­i­ties, Mr Kei­th Look Loy and Mr An­ton Corneal, to ter­mi­nate Charles as head coach of the U-15 team is not with­out good rea­son.

Look Loy saw it as “weak­ness­es in coach­ing, a lack of team struc­ture, low-in­ten­si­ty play and poor de­fend­ing.” Corneal sug­gest­ed that Charles did not have the re­quired ex­pe­ri­ence and was op­er­at­ing by guess. In con­trast, La For­est urged, “Let the coach do his thing. He is ex­pe­ri­enced and needs more and you will see a dif­fer­ence.”

Dur­ing the space of ap­prox­i­mate­ly six weeks, the U-15 team lost three games on lo­cal soil and lat­er, three while ty­ing one to low­ly-ranked Bar­ba­dos in Flori­da. T&T was shut out twice, scored eight times, and con­ced­ed 24 goals. Mr Tay­lor, how­ev­er, in­sist­ed that, “while the per­for­mances were ad­mit­ted­ly dis­ap­point­ing, it is worth not­ing that:

1. The coach’s long term am­bi­tions re­main this coun­try’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion for 2021 Un­der-17 World Cup.

2. The pur­pose of these de­vel­op­ment tour­na­ments is for ex­per­i­ment­ing and learn­ing more of each play­er.

3. And, while win­ning is im­por­tant, it is for qual­i­fy­ing for the 2021 U-17 World Cup.

Tay­lor went fur­ther to speak of Charles-Fevri­er’s stel­lar coach­ing and play­ing his­to­ry and felt that these must sure­ly stand for some­thing.

Clear­ly, Tay­lor took aim at Look Loy and Corneal, say­ing, “Those who are loud­est in their con­dem­na­tion of the coach are fear­ful that he will suc­ceed where they have failed.”

Tay­lor’s state­ment was in­cor­rect! One of these did lead the charge to a Youth World Cup - the 17th, U-20 tour­na­ment in Egypt.

My Per­son­al Views

I have a few thoughts of my own and they re­late to a very con­cern­ing area of my life. It is about foot­ball and sports, but most im­por­tant­ly, be­cause it speaks to the youth of our na­tion and their in­creas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult climb of life’s new moun­tains. As coach­es-lead­ers, our re­spon­si­bil­i­ty should al­ways be to equip our youth to suc­cess­ful­ly deal with chal­lenges that lie ahead and around the cor­ner. Sports, and in this case foot­ball, do help sharp­en the lens­es and guide our fo­cus on the things that are im­por­tant and ur­gent.

Our aim for our youth is to en­sure suc­cess in all of their en­deav­ours. But when they are not suc­cess­ful, as with these two re­cent tour­na­ments, they must be taught to val­ue the lessons with the aim of help­ing them for­ti­fy their re­solve and em­bold­en their spir­it to do bet­ter next time. The at­ti­tude of “nev­er be­ing down and out but, al­ways, up and about” must be en­grained in their hearts and their every cell, red, white and black! As for me, I hate los­ing more than I love win­ning and this sets the tone for every one of my un­der­tak­ings. From this mind­set, I was able to phrase what a true cham­pi­on was - one that gets up when lame, shares the fame and al­ways takes the blame. Are our young men down and out, es­pe­cial­ly af­ter this re­cent and siz­able dis­ap­point­ment? Are they able to get up from their lame po­si­tion? Who is tak­ing the blame?

I am of the clear-cut re­solve that we must raise our youth to be hind-sight learn­ers. This helps them be­come bet­ter fore­sight thinkers and do­ers, with a readi­ness to deal with and con­quer fu­ture ob­sta­cles. “Youth is wast­ed on the young” is a well-known cliché. This im­plies that they are young but not yet with the “wis­dom.” We know that the younger a per­son is the more they do not know what they don’t know - the two-sto­ry ig­no­rance syn­drome! We, on the oth­er hand, know too that a new cliché can be cre­at­ed about us - “Wis­dom is wast­ed on the aged” if we do noth­ing.

We are their trust­ed lead­ers and must pro­vide the guid­ance, love, com­pas­sion and “mus­cle” to as­sist them, to proud­ly and humbly rep­re­sent any suc­cess, but al­so to show them to pos­sess grace in de­feat and re­solve in get­ting up when lame.

“Coach” and stu­dent-ath­lete can have a tremen­dous­ly pro­duc­tive part­ner­ship and the fu­ture, brighter and full of more and re­al hope. We shall nev­er cease see­ing that “coach­es” are the archer and stu­dent-ath­letes, the ar­row, and where we aim, they shall go. Our job is to cor­rect and cau­tion and en­cour­age and em­pow­er. As Khalil Gibran ex­horts, “The teacher who is in­deed wise does not bid you to en­ter the house of his wis­dom, but rather, leads you to the thresh­old of your mind.”

I be­lieve that coach Charles is less suit­ed to coach the young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced and there­fore, more un­like­ly to be able to take them to the thresh­old of their minds. It is here I be­lieve that the dots weren’t able to con­nect for him dur­ing those two very com­pet­i­tive sets of games. Not every good “par­ent” can or likes chang­ing “di­a­pers” and the “mess” that comes with it! We have those who are ex­cel­lent ped­a­gogues, geared to nur­ture the young. And then there is the an­dr­a­gogue, those who deal with the adult, where the learn­er has a greater sense of re­spon­si­bil­i­ty, self-di­rect­ed­ness and able to work with learn­ing con­tracts that are cre­at­ed by the coach­ing and adult-play­ing par­ties.

So, Mr Tay­lor, be­cause of what I just shared, I say that I be­lieve that Charles-Fevri­er is best when coach­ing adults. Not every­one can han­dle the ex­pe­ri­enced, “two-sto­ry ig­no­rant” learn­er.

I wish to al­so share an­oth­er pres­sure that Stu­ar­tie may have had and it comes from his boss be­ing the boss of both of his over­sights, the U-15 and the W-Con­nec­tion teams. To David John-Williams, I re­it­er­ate that not every­one can fa­ther an adopt­ed child, the T&TFA, and give it the same at­ten­tion and love as with his very own W-Con­nec­tion.

A fi­nal thought and pos­si­bly what can be a re­sound­ing­ly com­pound­ing prob­lem for any of T&T’s coach­es, is that all of its foot­ball is de­crepit and filled with dis­as­trous per­for­mances and re­sults. This is true at all lev­els and with both gen­ders. And so, as the plague in­vades and metas­ta­sizes, through­out all of T&T’s foot­ball, hope goes with it. And with the death of hope, our bruised and trau­ma­tised youth re­turns to the street cor­ner life and thence, the rest falls in­to foot­ball-lov­ing Gary Grif­fith’s do­main.

Pe­ter Tay­lor, you say, Charles-Fevri­er con­tin­u­ing as U-15 coach re­mains your “lo­cal choice to get us there.”

I, Dr Han­ni­bal Na­j­jar, says Charles-Fevri­er must DIS­CON­TIN­UE as U-15 coach.

Dr Han­ni­bal Na­j­jar

For­mer T&TFA Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor and Head Coach.