Famed soccer coach Hannibal Najjar brought the flair of his Soca Warriors to Mississauga on the weekend.
The dismal weather, however, didn’t deter several dozen local coaches from attending Najjar’s soccer clinic that was held at the Hershey SportZone’s indoor fields.
The former head coach of Trinidad & Tobago’s national team took the attendees through a series of on-field drills that were prefaced by his coaching philosophy.
“If nothing is taught, nothing is caught ... you’re a jokey coach,” said Najjar, in his inimitable Trini style.
He urged the coaches to never stop being students of the game.
“I myself would not be standing here if I had stopped learning,” he said. “So one of the things I encourage people to do is to go out and acquire knowledge. You learn by going to courses, you learn by sitting with people who are wiser than you ... because they’ll impact you in a positive light.”
Najjar said a team must have ‘consensusness’ to be successful.
“By myself I’m no good. By yourself you’re no good. We need to put it together and come to terms with what is the objective and then put together a strategy to achieve that.”
The clinic was presented by Dixie SC and Brampton Lions FC, which earlier this summer joined forces to develop young players across Peel.
In his short stint with the Soca Warriors, Najjar guided the squad to a 8-3-1 record and a No. 47 FIFA ranking. He left the team a few years before it qualified for the 2006 World Cup, but is credited with helping in its development.
With over 30 years of coaching experience, Najjar was making a return to a country he still calls home. He was a coach of Ontario’s provincial program from 1990-93, and head coach of the Canada Games team in 1993.
In 1994, he left Canada to become the head coach and athletic director of Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1995, he was named head coach of the Jackson Chargers of the United Soccer League where they were two-time conference champions and national finalist.
He currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where he’s a high school teacher and soccer coach.
“(Hannibal) is not only a soccer coach but a life mentor,” said Phil Ionadi, director of business operations for the Brampton Lions and a former Dixie SC youth player.