Wed, May


Gairy John is now a house­hold name in the Ch­agua­nas com­mu­ni­ty in which his foot­ball acad­e­my pro­vides an av­enue and an op­por­tu­ni­ty for young boys and girls to de­vel­op their skills and use their spare time in a pro­duc­tive man­ner that brings joy to the com­mu­ni­ty.

John, 51, is a re­al-life com­mu­ni­ty sport­ing hero who con­tin­ues to give his time, en­er­gy and lifestyle for the love and de­vel­op­ment of foot­ball.

John found­ed the Gairy John Coach­ing Clin­ic over 25 years ago and for­malised the or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2007.

His in­volve­ment in foot­ball start­ed when he was as a stu­dent at the Cunu­pia Gov­ern­ment Pri­ma­ry School and the Ch­agua­nas Se­nior Com­pre­hen­sive School (now Ch­agua­nas Sec­ondary). He lat­er played for Las Lo­mas Unit­ed FC, Ca­roni Unit­ed FC and the T&T Fire Ser­vice FC.

John told Guardian Me­dia that the idea for his school came when he re­alised that youths who need­ed train­ing in foot­ball had to at­tend clin­ics and schools in north Trinidad, since there were very few places in Cen­tral that of­fered op­por­tu­ni­ties for foot­ball skills de­vel­op­ment in a com­mu­ni­ty where crick­et was the sport played by most peo­ple.

He said he could not have turned a blind-eye on nat­ur­al tal­ent and see youths go down the road mak­ing bad de­ci­sions be­cause there was noth­ing to give them an av­enue to de­vel­op their par­tic­u­lar sport­ing in­ter­est, so he took the bold move and start­ed the coach­ing clin­ic.

John, a fire­fight­er by pro­fes­sion for 25 years, has al­ways been a com­mu­ni­ty-ori­ent­ed in­di­vid­ual. Need­less to say, he has had the ho­n­our of de­vel­op­ing the skills of hun­dreds of play­ers who have passed through his clin­ic and gone on to play foot­ball for their schools, clubs and com­mu­ni­ty teams through­out the years.

Among those who have had their skills honed via the coach­ing clin­ic were Michael Re­naud, An­dre Mo­hammed, LeRoy Whyle and fe­male play­er Latisha John, who plays with Prov­i­dence Girls' High School and the na­tion­al Un­der-18 team.

John takes play­ers from as young as five years, holds a va­ca­tion camp dur­ing the Ju­ly-Au­gust va­ca­tion pe­ri­od and en­sures the clin­ic par­tic­i­pates in nu­mer­ous age-group com­pe­ti­tions and re­gion­al tour­na­ments.

This year, the clin­ic will trav­el to Grena­da from Au­gust 16 to par­tic­i­pate in the Caribbean Chil­dren Char­i­ty Shield Clas­sic.

John said one of the is­sues he has had over the years is that more peo­ple are not qual­i­fied as coach­es but are find­ing them­selves in po­si­tions where they are deal­ing with the young play­ers.

"I would like to see more school teach­ers be­ing ex­posed to train­ing as foot­ball coach­es and this will help in the de­vel­op­ment of the sport and ben­e­fit hun­dreds of young peo­ple of Trinidad and To­ba­go," John said.

"T&T needs to pro­vide as much op­por­tu­ni­ties for our your peo­ple as pos­si­ble so that they will not grav­i­tate to­wards a neg­a­tive lifestyle. I want to see the pri­vate sec­tor part­ner with schools and foot­ball coach­ing clubs for the de­vel­op­ment of our youth and the sport."

The Oa­sis Gar­dens, En­deav­our res­i­dent said T&T and Ch­agua­nas is filled with tal­ent and if steered in the right di­rec­tion that tal­ent will do the com­mu­ni­ty and T&T proud.

John was al­so grate­ful to the Ch­agua­nas Bor­ough Cor­po­ra­tion for its role in as­sist­ing the clin­ic through the main­te­nance of the Cunu­pia Recre­ation Ground, where ac­tiv­i­ties are con­duct­ed on Sat­ur­days and for their spon­sor­ship of clin­ic ac­tiv­i­ties.

Cunu­pia Coun­cil­lor Van­dana Mo­hit mean­while said she was ex­treme­ly hap­py that John had cho­sen to give back to his com­mu­ni­ty.

Mo­hit said, "The clin­ic goes deep­er than just pro­vid­ing train­ing for young peo­ple in sports. Sport is where youths can feel want­ed. Maslow's hi­er­ar­chy of needs clear­ly shows that all peo­ple want to feel this sense of be­long­ing. If we cre­ate a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment where youths can feel loved and need­ed."

SOURCE: T&T Guardian