Sat | Aug 8, 2020

Tanya Lee | Coaching is no easy feat

Published:Friday | December 6, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica College’s Rajae Lawrence dribbles away from St Andrew Technical High School’s Mikel Riley (left) during their ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup final at the National Stadium on Friday, November 29, 2019.

What a great week of football it has been since my last column entry! Unai Emery lost the Arsenal job; José Mourinho returned to Old Trafford to face his former side Manchester United with his new team Tottenham; while Jamaica College (JC) and Clarendon College (CC) are newly minted Urban and Rural schoolboy football champions.

While all eyes were on Mourinho to see how he would perform on his return to Old Trafford, it’s still the honeymoon phase, where the results won’t count for much in terms of assessing what kind of impact he will have at White Hart Lane. Mourinho started well at Manchester, winning his first four matches. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went unbeaten for all of 11 games and is currently struggling to eke out those big results, and even Emery, who was just sacked at Arsenal, went on a 22-game unbeaten run after losing his first two matches. I’ll thus assess Mourinho after his first 20 matches.

Over in schoolboy football, I found the urban and rural finals both underwhelming affairs.

CC were far superior to Dinthill Technical, and so that wasn’t an evenly matched encounter to present the fireworks expected of a final.

In the Manning Cup, JC and St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) failed to score after 90 minutes of play in what had to be the most lacklustre final I’ve seen in over a decade.

Kudos to JC, however, for getting the job done and continuing their dominance after winning their sixth title in eight years. But it’s hard to ignore that the champions won their last five matches on penalties. What luck for Davion Ferguson!

In speaking to decorated coach Miguel Coley, who is responsible for JC’s dominance in schoolboy football, he shared that the plan was designed for JC to challenge for eight straight seasons. He reminded me that JC were under-14 and under-16 All-Island Champions in 2017.

Coley, who now works with Baniyas Club in the United Arab Emirates, was especially happy for new coach, and his former assistant coach, Davion Ferguson, who tasted victory in only his first season at the helm. Coley maintains that to win a Manning Cup title is difficult and made even more so when a coach has other duties, particularly within the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL).

He reminded me of a few examples such as Ludlow Bernard who did double duties with Kingston College (KC) and Harbour View in 2016; Jerome Waite with Charlie Smith and Arnett Gardens in 2014; and even my dear friend Andrew Peart, who coached both UWI FC and JC last year.

Looking at this year’s final, coach Philip Williams had to split his time between Tivoli Gardens and STATHS before Saturday’s final. Tivoli Gardens lost last week Thursday to Mount Pleasant, with his coaching duties split in the critical final stages of the schoolboy football competition.

Coley added that to win a title, things have to be almost near to perfect, especially where the competition is strong. Team efficacy and total concentration is paramount when coaching young, impressionable minds that feed off the coach’s energy and attention. I’m now trying to recall a team winning the Manning Cup in recent years with the coach being with an RSPL outfit day in and day out. Maybe Coley is on to something. And he should know, he’s done it time and time again for JC.

I believe the best matchup this season came in the ISSA Champions Cup final between CC and KC, but there is still the Olivier Shield to play tomorrow, and JC may just prove me wrong. Time will tell.

Tanya Lee has over 10 years’ expertise as a Caribbean sports marketer and is also an athlete manager and publicist.