‘Hus­tler’ foot­ball coaches?

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

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’.


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