Fri | Feb 21, 2020

Orville Higgins | Hoping for mended fences in 2020

Published:Saturday | December 14, 2019 | 12:17 AM

Over the course of the last week, we had two high-profile Jamaican sports personalities ‘throwing shade’ at their former coaches in no uncertain way.

Jhaniele Fowler, the captain of the Sunshine Girls, did not mince words when saying how unimpressed she was with the coaches at the last Netball World Cup, where Jamaica finished a disappointing fifth.

She claimed that the coaches did not do that great a job, and went as far as saying that players were taking the field with little or no strategic instructions.

Yohan Blake, in his now-controversial interview done in India, is blaming former coach Glen Mills for not allowing him to run more races against Usain Bolt while they were training partners at Racers Track Club.

Bolt, he said, “overshadowed” his career, and he felt he could have given Bolt much greater competition if the coach had not gone to great lengths to keep them apart.

It is not unusual for star players to have an issue with coaches.

Huge egos

Big players invariably come with huge egos, and how the coach deals with this is often the most important factor in getting them to perform at their optimum. I have heard people being harsh on Jhaniele, and indeed other Sunshine Girls, for being difficult to coach. I can understand why people will come to that conclusion. Sometimes the Sunshine Girls can create the impression that they are prima donnas.

Former Sunshine Girls assistant coach Winston Nevers is a polarising figure. It appears that he splits opinions straight down the middle. Either the girls are fiercely loyal to him or they just don’t seem to rate him at all.

The more I listen to all concerned, however, is the more I feel that the Sunshine Girls may not mean any harm even though they can appear to be difficult.

Within any team structure, there are always diverse personalities, and managing them can be hard. When a team is winning, these issues can be swept under the carpet, and the impression created that all is hunky-dory.

Losing, however, tends to bring all issues to the fore.

I feel (or maybe I’m simply hoping) that in time the issues affecting the Sunshine Girls will be behind us. The team certainly has the talent to push for the ultimate crown. I am optimistic that all will end well.


The case of Yohan Blake is a little less straightforward. Yohan appears to be bitter towards Glen Mills as his career is in its twilight years.

Quite unfairly, in my view, he seems to want to blame the coach for his career not going to greater heights. On the contrary, I think he should be crediting Mills for what he has achieved.

He is the second-fastest man ever over 200 metres and the joint second-fastest man over 100 metres. Glen Mills surely must be given kudos for those. A global gold medal and silver medals are nothing to be sneezed at either. Blake should not allow the disappointment that injury has caused to his career to make him not see the importance of Mills in what he has achieved.

The divide between the Sunshine Girls and the former coaching staff, especially Nevers is deep. So, too, is the rift between Yohan Blake and Mills. It is my hope that fences will be mended between all these parties and that come next year, they all will operate on more amicable grounds.