Waterhouse making giant strides forward
Audley Boyd, Sports Editor
WATERHOUSE Football Club is on the move. The Drewsland team has made the most obvious strides on the pitch - now only three points behind leaders Harbour View at the end of 22 matches - after emerging pointless after its first five contests this season.
Unnoticed, though, are the giant strides being made by the club's management off the field, as they bid to make the entity the best in the Caribbean. At the same time, they are looking to score with its fanatical throng by raising the standard of life in the community. Both goals go hand in hand.
Like any solid unit, proper management is key to building strength and success through teamwork. And two of the Drewsland outfit's key players, club chairman Bruce Bicknell and president Ricky Chin, were quick to list those facets as key to its meteoric rise.
"Although we've come from last in the first month of the season to second, it's a reflection of strong leadership at all levels," noted Bicknell. "From the president, players, coaches, community, groundsmen, there's camaraderie at all levels."
He added: "We can attribute this to the number of positives that are now taking place as at the beginning of the season, and I'd like to make special mention of our president, Ricky Chin, who has brought a high level of organisation and leadership to the club.
"He has also brought in competent people, including an office manager, a psychologist, a doctor and physical trainer," Bicknell pointed out. "He's bringing in agents from overseas to take a look at our players with a view to gaining contracts to provide much-needed income for the club."
Chin joined Waterhouse at the beginning of the season, taking the position held for a long while by Peter Hibbert, who had resigned in the previous campaign.
Part of Chin's ambition is, like the club, to win the premier league - but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
"My vision is to make Waterhouse the most professional football entity in the Caribbean and we're not far off.
"If you look at the community we're a part of social decay. If we can get the club moving in a structural manner then much can be done to enhance the community. 'How you get it there?'," he inserted. "Make sure that we create the environment and it's organisational outreach."
That explains the additions he has made to the management squad, as the club positions itself to capitalise on the greater opportunities that exist beyond these shores.
For years, clubs have made the perennial call for funding to facilitate a near $20-million budget. Though things have improved through the support they have been able to garner for themselves through the recently formed Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA), as well as other individual sponsors, most of the contestants do not get enough to cover half the budget to pay players, staff and other bills.
Some clubs, like Portmore United and Harbour View, have had a solid management system in place for some time and have benefitted mainly through the player-transfer market in Europe especially, and North America.
Waterhouse are looking to go that route.
"We can't fully mirror what is taking place in North America and Europe, but we can go as close as possible to getting there," said Chin, who is used to operating on large-scale projects, as he runs music productions for international events through his company.
Fully aware of the competition that exists globally for available talent, Chins makes an analogy with the music industry to embellish his point about the need for greater efficiency and marketability.
"For every record deal, there's about 200,000 people wanting that deal. It's how well you can be positioned to make things happen," he said, noting that he's making some links with some of the people with whom he has forged relationships in Europe, who also have football connections.
"I'm now calling upon some of them (worldwide associates) to see how we can make it happen. Most of the bigger clubs in Europe want players under 21 so they can mould them into a system. One of the clubs which are very good at it is Arsenal."
Chin added: "We want to be able to get into that, hence, we need to have a very strong youth programme and see how we can get them into the marketplace.
"We're going to bring people to the club, showcase them (players) and see if we can start moving players outside Jamaica. We've had only one (Demar Phillips) in the last five years. We need to make a concerted effort in doing that," he promised.
The club's long-time chairman Bicknell, whose company - Tank-Weld Metals - is a major sponsor of the club and has been working on the ground in the environs with a view to social upliftment, said "the community has to be sensitised as well" and be ready to respond to the challenges.
Both Bicknell and Chin acknowledged the role of coach Geoffrey Maxwell, the man who forged Waterhouse into a championship unit years back and returned as head coach this season.
"Ricky also recruited Geoffrey Maxwell, who was under serious pressure with the media when we lost the first five matches," the Waterhouse chairman pointed out. "I'd like to commend Geoffrey for working very close with management. He has become a father figure to the players and is also instrumental to our junior programme."
He added: "When you couple him being a father figure and working close to the manager and being one of the best technical coaches in Jamaica, he's another reason why Waterhouse is doing so well."
Chin said: "I wanted someone who could command discipline, I wanted someone with very good tactical ability, I wanted someone who could sit in the office with the chairman and myself and communicate with us without trying to impress us and have their own impression. We didn't want a 'yes' person."
He said there are times when they have their 'fights', but at the end of the day they agree to disagree and make the best decision for the club.
"Based on these meetings and being in sync, Geoffrey, who has been known to talk down to his players and organisation, has come to realise that wasn't the best way and we've improved," said Bicknell.
He added: "We've come a very far way, we've witnessed where people of all income levels are attending games here. The fans, the incidents, the bad language and cussing of referee has reduced significantly, as they are proud to be part of Waterhouse FC."
It's the kind of movement that has got Waterhouse trending in the right direction. Still, the game is far from over and the Drewsland team is hoping to strengthen its team and effort to stay on the move.