Derek King will have all eyes on him this season as he lead Macoya based Joe Public into the 2009 season in the role of head coach.
Now it’s a fresh start for the former Trinidad and Tobago and Joe Public defender who has been given the opportunity to prove himself at the top flight.
“It’s a bit challenging as the youngest coach in the league. But the players give me respect and at the end of the day I am here to bring results to Joe Public,” said the 28 year old.
With the determination the bring pride to his family (wife and daughter) and current employers, King will definitely have his work cut out this season. The former T&T international said that winning the League is at the top of his list followed by the FA Trophy and Toyota Classic trophies which they failed to defend last season.
“I always aim high and winning the League Championship will bring a special feeling for me, my wife Michelle, daughter, the owners of Joe Public and the players,” said King.
The Eastern Lions finished last season without silverware finishing fifth in the League, behind Neal and Massy Caledonia AIA(4th), North East Stars(3rd), W Connection(2nd) and champions CLICO San Juan Jabloteh.
In previous years Joe Public did considerably well under coach Micahel Mc Comie, a former goalkeeper at the club winning the League Championship, Toyota Classic and FA Trophy to name a few. Now its left to see whether or not King can follow the pattern of Mc Comie, as player to coach at Joe Public?
King kicked off his professional career with W Connection in 1999 before joining the Eastern Lions in 2002. The former Arima Senior Comprehensive School player has also represented Trinidad and Tobago at Youth and Senior level.
Ironically King picked up his career-ending injury at the Macoya venue in 2004—home of Joe Public. He had an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructive surgery to his knee but never returned to the pitch as a player. He opted to get into coaching under advice of his employers, owner Jack Warner, technical director Keith Lookloy and Richard Abraham(deceased) and is now pursuing his UEFA A coaching licence already completing part one last year. King also holding the (Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation) TTFF A and C Licences and a Dutch Course is about to show his worth as the youngest professional coach inside the Pro League.
King will be assisted by player/assistant coach and current team captain Dale Saunders this season as the Lions look to rebound from a trophy-less 2008.
“We’ve sat down and come up with what we can do to give a good account of ourselves this year. We have a few players out of last year’s squad like Seon Power and Kerry Baptiste. I am assisted by player assistant coach Dale Saunders and Arab Nelson and once we bring that unity within the team from the staff to the players, I know that we will play attractive football this year and good things for Joe Public.”
Alejandro Figueroa, Seon Power, Kerry Baptiste, Jason Springer, Keyeno Thomas, Carlyle Mitchell and newly appointed player/assistant coach Dale Saunders are the seven surviving players of last season.
Daurance Williams, Hayden Tinto, Conrod Smith, Tiba McKnight, Michael Woods, Rasheed Griffith, Kareem Moses, Quincey Charles, John Stewart, Dorion Robinson, Keryn Navarro, Bevon Bass, Kareem Young and Shawn Cooper are other players already listed with the Eastern Lions this season.
King believes that the combination of youth and experience in his squad can bring success.
“We have added Daurance Williams, Hayden Tinto, Conrod Smith, Teba McKnight and a few youth players from the Jabloteh and W Connection that we feel will bring that blend with experience and youth to the club.”
“We didn’t just add these players. We looked around in areas where we can improve. Conrod Smith can add dimension in front, Hayden Tinto on the flank and we have also boosted our goalkeeping department with Michael Woods and Daurance Williams.”
Satisfied with the way his pre-season his coming along, King explained that a lot of emphasis is placed on the fitness of his players.
“We have seen what it did to us last season playing in the (CONCACAF) Champions League as fitness played a major role in our team’s performance in the group stage. So we are doing a lot of work in that department and already our players are feeling a lot better heading into the new season.”