WHAT started as a light personal training session for ex-Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) goalkeeper Rondell Renwick has now grown into a unique, mini-goalkeeping clinic for some of south Trinidad’s rising football custodians.
One month ago, the 33-year-old Union Hall, San Fernando resident opted to capitalise on the downtime by dusting off his old gloves and cleats and trekking over to the nearby Presentation College grounds to rejuvenate his physical passion for the beautiful game.
Renwick was assisted by his friend Ray Mohammed, to properly execute drills and other goalkeeping exercises. The former Naparima College (2002-2003) and Princes Town Secondary (2004-2005) goalie recorded his little stint, uploaded the video to Facebook and surprisingly received rave reviews on his so-called return to the field.
One day later, he was contacted by current “Naps” goaltender Levi Fernandez who expressed interest to join in on his personal training, to which he obliged.
Over the next week, Renwick freely accepted requests from upcoming goalkeepers Raheem Lee (Pleasantville Secondary), Rashard Hart (another Naparima custodian) and former “Pres” now current T&T Beach Soccer goalie, Jabari Gray to train together while maintaining the required physical distancing regulations.
After each session, Renwick uploaded each training stint to social media and according to him, “I became a coach overnight.”
Although an uncertified coach, Renwick has now abolished his personal training regime and directed all focus on TT’s prospects. He has not only implemented his goalkeeping experience throughout the years as a gauge but has been in close contact with local stalwarts of the art form to aid his students’ athletic progress.
Renwick maintains a close relationship with former national goalkeepers Kelvin Jack and Clayton Ince, both of whom view his videos and share their advice on elevating the young men’s game.
Coaching knowledge from the likes of former T&T player Dexter Cyrus, Presentation College goalkeeping coach Jefferson George and ex-TT Pro League custodians Aquelius Sylvester (W-Connection) and Adisa Alleyne (Police) all contribute to Renwick’s free afternoon classes. In support of his free initiative, Cyrus has already donated a water cooler to inspire Renwick to keep pushing on.
He has since adopted the catchphrase “Save a ball. Save a soul” as added motivation for himself to continue these generous but progressive works.
“This is being done out of love for the game and love for people. It’s no longer about me. I feel like I’m walking in my purpose for God. As a believer, when you think about saving a soul, you usually come about it from a religious standpoint. That’s God’s job. Our work is to be mentors to people save souls. Saving a soul from going on the block and getting shot, saving a soul from going out partying in the night, preserving a youth’s life so they can walk into their own divine purpose and not sell themselves short of achieving their big dream,” he explained.
As his sessions gain momentum, Renwick has been forced to limit interested participants to abide by the Government’s physical distancing stipulations. The guys train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons and are singled out for individual sessions on Sunday.
Inspired by such positive feedback, Renwick is now intent on certifying himself as a goalkeeping coach and in an attempt to give back to his country through sport and mentoring young minds.
“The goal I’m working on with these guys is technical fine tuning. To play at the highest level you have to be technically sound. From a coaching standpoint, I’m just looking at the mistakes they make, fixing them and making sure they become quicker and more technically sound. These guys have big dreams and I’m overwhelmed with their trust in me. They are always present and on time. What I’m seeing most of all, is improvement,” he added.
Other age groups and parents have begun to show interest in his free classes but Renwick admitted he would need at least one additional experienced goalkeeper to be physically present to equally manage the growing bunch. He wants to ensure everyone gets the required attention needed to improve their trade.
Since inception of the mini-goalkeeping clinic, the players have been reaching out, seeking knowledge through conversation, on several personal issues. Renwick welcomes their interest and like goalkeeping, uses his many hiccups in life to mould their impressionable minds towards becoming better human beings.
“They are even reaching out to me for guidance in personal situations and I’m so surprised how much they listen. I’ve made many mistakes but learnt so much through these personal errors in life. Passing on knowledge in this regard is fulfilling. I didn’t know I had this in me but I’m loving it. I now understand from a coaching standpoint how and why these coaches are so dedicated year after year. You are literally giving back to your country in a positive way,” he said.
As he concluded, Renwick admitted his coaching certification was mandatory but not limited to stopping his little programme. He also credited Mohammed, who provides transport for the youngsters, and Pleasantville Secondary’s senior trainer Joel Maloney, who assists in getting the boys through the warm-ups.
From this coming week however, Renwick has been forced to shift his venue to Gulf View Community Grounds.
He closed, “I’m seeing a future for this but I intend to approach it one step at a time. I’m not rushing it because I want to allow everything to unfold in its natural way without rushing, me getting overwhelmed and excited. Becoming a certified goalkeeping coach is part of the plan but I literally became a coach overnight to these young men. This is all for them, not me.”