Mon, Jun

This country’s national U-20 and U-17 football teams have played their first-leg encounters with Cuba. The Anton Corneal coached U-20 team overcame Cuba by a 3-2 margin, while Nigel Grovesnor’s U-17 squad went under to the Cubans by 3-1.
The first words uttered by Coach Grovesnor were, “I take blame for the loss.” This statement was so refreshing, that I will repeat it here, “I take blame for the loss!”

In other words, the buck stops here. I am in charge, I understand and accept all aspects of the job for which I was hired. I will not take the easy way out, by blaming individual players who obviously made mistakes and may not have followed instructions to the letter.

This approach is one of the classiest I have seen by a coach in a long time, both locally and abroad. Quite frankly, I am sick and tired of listening to well- thought out, planned and executed statements which attempt to convince me that what I witnessed with my own, god-given eyes was not in fact reality.

That somehow, performances were acceptable, when it was as clear as Maracas Beach without lifeguards that they in fact were pathetic.

A coach can and must find positives in any performance, this is part of his responsibility to his/her players. However, the quest for these positives must remain in the dressing room and on the practice grounds.

The people, the fans, the media deserve the truth. Not intricate details, as time does not allow for in- depth analysis in a two- minute “sound bite”, or even a 500-word report in the print media.

Coaches should neutralise their respective defence mechanisms, installed and entrenched by over-blown egos, and basically come clean. Then they will realise that this trait inspires people.

Inspiration leads to motivation. Motivation leads to mobilisation. Consequently in this case I am certain that a larger number of people will purchase tickets for the double-header in the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on December 10, 2004, simply because of this display of humility, graciousness, class and strength by Coach Grovesnor.

Furthermore,Grovesnor, by making this statement and taking responsibility for the loss, is clearly demonstrating that he fully understands the science of psychology.

One of the most difficult tasks in coaching a team sport is in fact to create a team. What is a team? A team is a group of people whose very existence depends on the person next to them. A team is a collection of individuals with one heart, one mind and one goal.

A team may take many years to evolve. However, in this day and age, time is a luxury not afforded to coaches in preparation for various competitions. The systems and structures in place, presently, do not lend themselves to providing vast periods of time for preparation and team cohesion.

By pointing the gun at himself, Coach Grovesnor has accelerated this process of unification. In short, the players will now bond together quickly for their “General”. They will want to protect the man who has protected them. Each individual is cognisant of the errors they made and will do his endeavour best to correct these flaws.This element will go a long way in promoting confidence in young players, as it eliminates the inherent pressure of trying to be perfect all the time.

Furthermore, tolerance and patience with one another will also be enhanced. Mistakes will be met with positive responses, rather than division. Again, this will enable the players to function as a cohesive unit, thereby creating an environment where success is an odds-on favourite, as opposed to failure.

Coach Grovesnor continued, “I went for the win!” Thank you, my brother! Coaches all across the globe have retreated into their shells when playing away from home. Conservative, boring defensive tactics are employed, and in fact fail to produce the desired result anyway.

I therefore wholeheartedly congratulate Coach Grovesnor on his tactics, attitude, creativity and, most importantly, his individuality, in going for the win away from home when it was there for the taking.

Grovy, thank you for inspiring me. Continue to be true to your beliefs and never second guess yourself. Your mature, brave approach in accepting responsibility will stand as a shining example to all who purport to be coaches of elite athletes. In short “nuff respect”.