Stuart John Hall, director of the Birmingham City Academy is currently in Trinidad for a two-week period to work with local Secondary School League coaches and at the same time scout for local talent.
This is the second year of Hall’s involvement in the Stern John Skills Award Programme which started two years ago with the aim to assist in youth development and the upgrading of local coaches. According to Hall, despite John no longer being attached to the Premier League club, it was still felt that Birmingham could continue to make a contribution to the game in Trinidad and Tobago and at the same time look for the benefits of spotting local talent which they could then turn into seasoned Birmingham City professionals.
“Last year I came because of my relationship with Stern John and the fact that he played for Birmingham for a couple seasons and I got to know him very well. He invited me to work in the programme and look at the talent over here. It was a two sided initiative. I would coach the coaches to work on the programme and in return I get to see the talented players who could then get a chance to go to my club,” Hall explained to TTFF Media.
Skills Award coaches Muhammad Isa and Don La Foucade have been on training stints at Birmingham through the ongoing relationship.
“It was really a wonderful learning experience and what you realize is that the organization and the systems they have in place is the main difference between them and us. I had a chance to have a look at the entire facilitie which is top class and to work with their teams and coaches. This sort of experience is definitely a plus for us because someone like myself can now come back home and pass it on,” Isa said.
Hall intends to make use of his time in Trinidad.
“This year the invitation has been extended to the Secondary School coaches with the same idea behind it. I’m also coaching players at the same time. If anybody says to me I know where there is a good player, I tell them bring him to the clinic and let’s see what he has to offer,” he said.
Dwight Yorke was the latest T&T player at Birmingham up to last week and while John is now at Coventry City, Hall added that the influence John has had at Birmingham is one of the reasons they have decided to maintain ties.
“Stern’s heart will always be with Birmingham. That’s where he had the best years of his career in England and he helped us gain promotion to the Premiership which is something we will never forget. He’s totally committed to this project and he’s really happy for Birmingham to still be involved even though he’s not there and we are extremely happy to still have ties with him and Trinidad and Tobago,” Hall ended.
Meantime, Coventry boss Mickey Adams paid tribute to John on Wednesday but hinted that the club may have to let him go for next season due to financial difficulties.
“He is a 20-goal a season man without a shadow of a doubt," he said of the player who has scored crucial goals in successive games to take his tally to 10 from 32 appearances.
"There are other aspects of Stern's game that I would like to see improve but there is no doubt that he is the best finisher at the club, given the chances.
But as to whether Adams can build a decent team around John, that remains to be seen.
"I will never get the team I want at this club and I won't even get it anywhere near," he said. "The finances at this club dictate what sort of team I put out next season. I have to try to get the best out of a group of players. Whether it is the team I want or the team I can possibly get, only time will tell."