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.