By Orville Higgins
The regularity with which coaches move around in the Red Stripe Premier League is now beginning to amuse me. Lenworth Hyde's resignation from Humble Lion is the latest of an astonishingly long line of coaches who can't seem, for one reason or another, to stay at any team for long.
Lenny himself has won the Premier League at three different clubs, but couldn't (or didn't want to) hold down a job at any one of them! Now he has resigned from a fourth!
Think about this. Calvin Lewis started at Arnett, left to head up Highgate, then left for Portmore. He won the league at Portmore, and then promptly went back to Highgate! A few weeks after joining Highgate, he left, and is now right back at Arnett Gardens! He has gone full circle. Lewis is only back at Arnett because Paul 'Tegat' Davis vacated that post. Tegat' himself has coached other teams in the Premier League.
Savannah FC have had Kendrick Quarrie, Patrick Graham and now Everton Tomlinson at the helm in the last five or six months. Sporting Central have had different stints with Vassell Reynolds, Nigel Stewart, Chris Dawes, and Kevin Williams in recent times.
At different times in recent memory, Portmore have had Paul Young, Lenny Hyde, Linval Dixon, Calvin Lewis and Andre Waugh in charge. Geoffrey Maxwell has had more clubs than Tiger Woods! We could go on ad nauseam.
Except for Andrew Price at Boys' Town, there is probably no other coach in the Premier League who has been the head coach for the same team for four or five years. Many argue that this is only so because Boys' Town's managerial structure is different from most of the other clubs, where Andrew is both head cook and bottle washer.
At the schoolboy level in football, this tendency to move around is not as obvious. The two teams in the Olivier Shield playoffs, for example, St George's and Glenmuir, have had the same coaches (Neville Bell and 'Jackie' Walters) for a fairly long while.
This revolving-door phenomenon doesn't occur in any other sport in Jamaica, or certainly not to the same extent. Barry Barnes has coached cricket at Manchester for more than a decade. Ephraim McLeod has coached the St Catherine cricket team going 14 years. Winston Nevers has coached Jamalco at netball since the late 1990s. Glen Mills and Stephen Francis have coached at the Racers and MVP track clubs for years. Maurice Wilson has been the man in charge of Holmwood since the late 1990s. Et cetera, et cetera.
All these coaches are highly successful. So what is it about football at the top in Jamaica that causes this revolving roster of coaches?
Do these Premier League coaches sign real contracts? If so, are these contracts binding for a year, with an option of renewal? Or is that the arrangement between coaches and clubs in Jamaica is a by-the-way word-of-mouth business?
Is it that our football coaches, especially those in the Premier League, don't have the same sense of loyalty as other coaches in other sports? Is it that many of them enter coaching to 'eat a food' and not necessarily to help any particular team?
Are our Premier League club presidents too impatient and want to switch around coaches as soon as there is a series of poor results? Is it that our aggressive and intimidating football spectators put Premier League coaches under too much pressure when they are losing and, therefore, frighten the poor coaches into resigning as soon as they lose a few games?
Could this tendency for the clubs to play musical chairs with the coaches be because many of our Premier League teams are based in inner-city areas, and the people in those communities are not as forgiving of poor results as people from the other parts of Jamaica?
The answer may well lie among all those reasons. Whatever it is, though, it should be a concern. All this toing and froing among football coaches in the Premier League must have a deleterious impact on the players and, therefore, affect their level of play.
As soon as they get used to one coach and his methods, they have to get accustomed to somebody else. The players hardly know if they will have the same coach from season to season, or indeed from month to month. If we really want to fix Jamaica's football, we've got to fix the coaching.
KLAS's Orville Higgins is a sportscaster. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.