Thu, Jun


A son of the soil, Mr Bertille William St. Clair, hails from the scenic village of Black Rock, Tobago.

This accomplished gentleman assumed duty as a teacher at Montgomery Primary School in 1959, spent twenty years there and changed the face of the institution. As a young teacher and sports enthusiast, he yearned to coach the school's cricket team, which at the time was losing every match to the surrounding schools. When the sports teacher relinquished his position, Sir St. Clair willingly embraced the opportunity to fulfil the role as sports teacher at the school. This marked the commencement of his successful sporting career that touched many lives around the globe. St Clair used sports to transform his class of academically challenged pupils to a victorious group which was regarded with high esteem. With some "broken bats" he trained the boys, who responded positively to the training. They launched an attack on the schools' teams in the surrounding areas and reaped a harvest of success. This accomplishment later extended to the schools' football team. The sense of success experienced from sports soon propelled the once academically challenged group of boys to demonstrate improved academic performance as well. Sir St. Clair organized scholarships from Mr. Mitchell for many of his pupils who were either unable to attain a place in Secondary school through College Exhibition or could not afford the tuition.

The Schools' Gardening Competition Award was one which Montgomery Primary School usually captured under the tutorship of Sir St. Clair. Steel pan playing was also introduced to the school by Sir St. Clair. Truancy, late coming, fighting, gang rivalry and other negative behaviours went through the door as Sir St. Clair's charges were motivated to replace them with more constructive endeavours. It's amazing how Sir St. Clair utilized dynamic teaching strategies to create such a profound impact on his charges without any formal training in Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences - which many pursue academic degrees to attain. Montgomery Primary School's accomplishments attracted many transfers to the institution. Driven by their desire to experience success, skilled footballers from the once leading Bon Accord Primary Schools' Football Team, such as Wendell Moore, sought places at Montgomery Primary School.

In 1976, Coach St. Clair established the St. Clair's Coaching School and he later pioneered the Flamingo Sports Club. Coaching School has "sustained a reputation that has become synonymous with youth excellence, keen sportsmanship and scholastic excellence". Many of its past students, like Dwight Yorke, Colvin Hutchinson,Wendell Moore, Richard Goddard, Frankie Mohammed and so many others made significant strides in the international community. With its watchwords of "Discipline, Dedication and Cooperation, ... more than 150 members have been able to attain tertiary-level education. Many have become medical doctors, engineers and information architects, to name just a few. Moreover, many have returned to Trinidad and Tobago and continue to serve the organization, the community and the country, in various capacities." The success of these men is evident of the school's reputation and the calibre of the man after which it is named. This month of April marks the school's thirty-fifth anniversary.

In 1979 Sir St. Clair left Montgomery to go to Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive School as the Physical Education Teacher. He however successfully taught English A to all the fourth formers at the school. Under his leadership the school dominated the national football arena. They won the most national championship trophies in the country. This trophy was held by them for three consecutive years (from 1987 -1989). Two of Coach St. Clair's fond memories at the school were when:
• Prime Minister Robinson and his entourage visited the school to celebrate one of their victories and
• One day as he entered the quiet assembly hall, he was greeted by the song "Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero."

Coach St. Clair seems to have an innate capability to motivate and mentor young minds. He modelled what he preached to his mentees, who were showered with incentives to soar to great heights. He is motivated by his belief that "All could learn and everybody could be somebody." In the book entitled "Dwight Yorke Born to Score", the author recalled an incident with Coach St. Clair when he found him drinking a beer on the "block" in his village with some friends. When he caught Dwight with the beer at ten years old, Coach:Slapped me across the face and ordered me to do twenty press-ups in the street" and said "So this is what you are going to do, eh? Throw it all away? Hang around on the street corners? End up a drunk or a druggie? Do you really want that? Or do you want to make something out of yourself? Don't be stupid. You have talent Dwight. You can be special. Don't throw it all away just to act big with your mates (Yorke, 2009, p. 19).

Today Dwight is a renowned world class footballer and ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. In 1982 Wendell Moore accompanied Coach to Bristol Rovers and when Bobby Gold saw this young man's talent, he requested that he remain and play for their team. He and Frankie Mohammed, among others, later earned football scholarships to study at universities abroad. They have all excelled academically - these are all products of the compassionate humanitarian and extraordinary Coach Bertille St. Clair.

In 1990, Sir Bertille St. Clair was presented the Teacher of the Year Award by the then Honourable Prime Minister A.N.R Robinson. He was later transferred from Signal Hill School to the Division of Sports as Assistant Director of Sport, where he worked laboriously to enhance the sporting arena in Tobago.During his career, this dynamic visionary football coach was contracted to train the Cayman Islands' National Football Team, the St. Vincent National Football Team and later the Trinidad and Tobago National Football team. Coach Bertille St. Clair coached every national team in Trinidad and Tobago.
• He was the first person in the English-speaking Caribbean to take a team to the World Cup in 1991.
• He took the Senior National Team to the Semi Final of Gold Cup in Los Angeles in 2000.
• He took the Senior National Team to the second round of the World Cup twice.• He took the National Under 13 Team to the ....?
• He led the National Under 16 Team to a victory in the Caribbean Championship.
• He took the National Under 19 Team to the World Cup.
• He took the National Under 23 Team to the Pan American Games.

He still travels to the Ralph Lundy Soccer Academy in Charleston, U.S.A, for five weeks during the summer, every year. There he is the director of the Elite Program. He has engaged in two-week coaching stints with football clubs such as Arsenal, Bristol Rovers, Manchester United, West Ham and Watford.Coach Bertille St Clair, coached the National Ladies Hockey Team as well as the Paradise Women's Hockey Club in Tobago. He was also the President of the Tobago Steel Band Association. Coach is a man that wears many hats and demonstrates excellence in all of his endeavours. His certificates, medals and awards are too numerous to mention. There is therefore no doubt that Coach St. Clair was deserving of the Chaconia Medal (silver) and the Public Service Medal of Merit Gold for long and meritorious service which were bestowed upon him by the National Community of Trinidad and Tobago.

One of his famous lines "Stay in your wicket and you will get runs!" was accurately demonstrated by this icon. He was consistent in his exemplary manifestation of "Discipline, Dedication and Co-operation and he gained significant success."

Indeed, St. Clair is a father, a leader, a coach, an administrator, a businessman, a scholar of extraordinary insight, a major force in the lives of many, a pioneer, an educator, a mentor, a motivator - disciplinarian. This dedicated volunteer and philanthropist has given generously of his time, expertise, and financial resources to make a difference in the lives of individuals and the quality of life in his community, the Caribbean and the world. An unknown author once said "Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence." Coach St. Clair exhibits this.