‘Hustler’ football coaches?
VETERAN FOOTBALL coach, Geoffrey Maxwell, stunned the local football fraternity last week, by attempting the unthinkable.
Indeed, the eccentric former national coach actually did the unthinkable when he conducted a full training session with Dinthill Technical High School team last week Tuesday, then proceed to instruct the team from the bench in their first game of the quarterfinal round of the daCosta Cup a day later, after previously guiding Haile Selassie High to zonal honours and a place in the quarter-final round of the Manning Cup.
Maxwell has in fact created history as the first man to have actually coached in the Manning Cup and the daCosta Cup competitions in the same season, while both teams are still actively engaged in the competitions.
Technically, he was not the official coach of Dinthill High at the time, as he was still officially registered as the head coach of Haile Selassie and conversely not registered as the coach of Dinthill, as the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) rules prohibit the same individual being officially registered as the coach of two separate teams in the same season of schoolboy football.
Beyond the technicality of Maxwell’s history-creating act though, this entire fiasco highlights a longstanding practice by top local football coaches of having multiple coaching jobs with different teams during the same season.
Maxwell might have gone to the ridiculous extreme, but a number of Jamaica’s big reputation coaches such as Jerome Waite, Lenworth ‘Lenny’ Hyde, Ludlow Bernard, Donovan Duckie, Calvert Fitzgerald, Omar Edwards, just to name a few, have at some point simultaneously coached at least two teams.
Some have coached three teams, from the national Premier League level, through the business house level and the schoolboy level during the same season.
Logistically, it must take some doing as the football season in Jamaica is common to all levels and there must be issues of training session time clashes, match and game day preparation and execution clashes. There is no way a coach can be totally focused on the task at hand when he has two or three such tasks at hand, not in the area of football coaching.
Montego Bay United owner, Orville Powell, was asked recently why he consistently opts for foreign coaches to guide the Premier League champions. He stated that most of the top coaches in Jamaica are engaged in coaching schoolboy teams, thus he goes for coaches who will be totally focused on Montego Bay United.
The driving force behind this unique practice by local football coaches is obviously the pursuit of the ‘almighty dollar’ and, in a sense, it’s hard to blame the coaches. After all, they have their families to feed. But on the other hand, in looking at the wider picture, this practice could be at the expense of proper guidance and player development and helps to stagnate the positive evolution of the local coaches and ultimately the local players.
It is quite reasonable to assume that some of these coaches are short-changing some of the teams and the players they are charged with guiding. In the case of Geoffrey Maxwell, the short changing apparently took place at both ends of the spectrum, with his situation turning out to be a classic case of the ‘greedy dog losing his bone’.
The Maxwell saga, as it unfolded, might well have provided some good moments of drama and laughter across the local football fraternity, but even more important, it brings to light an almost hidden problem that has long existed in local football, a problem that has been getting worse in recent years: the advent of the non-committed, selfserving coaches who run the risk of being looked upon as ‘hustlers’.