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Don’t lose Hart says ‘Tiger’ Phillips
National coach Stephen Hart is the coaching model needed to take T&T football to the point of professionalism. This is the view of former national goalkeeper and technical director of local football Lincoln ‘Tiger’ Phillips.
Back home from his US-base, Phillips noted that the sport appears to be dangling on the comeback curve and suggested a number of key factors were preventing regular qualification to World Cup tournaments, as well as stunting T&T’s progress in the CONCACAF region.
Though in existence for well over a decade, the T&T Professional League according to Phillips, was still grappling to become self sustainable while the public seem unconvinced of its quality.
Phillips feels the work he started as technical director a few years ago should be continued and would lead to the production of coaches such as Hart and solve the problem of finance, which has been a thorn in local football.
In his book ‘Rising Above and Beyond the Crossbar’ Phillips describes a coach as a mentor, friend, disciplinarian, taskmaster, therapist and confidant, saying he is a brother, father and educator and someone who shapes and influences lives for better, which are qualities he has seen in the Canadian coach as he continues to inspire his troops to impressive performances and good results on the trail to the 2018 World Cup.
Phillips is urging the David John-Williams led T&T Football Association (TTFA) to not make the mistake and lose Hart, adding all the necessary tools needed should be given to Hart as he charts his way to the World Cup and continues to be an exemplar to coaches in the pro league, primary schools, academies and other youth teams.
He feels the downfall in local football, particularly at the pro league level, has been the focus on pro players making the professional league when it should be the other way around. “To have a successful league you need to start from the ground and go up, meaning that focus should be placed on developing the young players and coaches at the communities and gather the support at the same time” he explained.
During his reign as technical director, Phillips introduced a number of coaching courses that facilitated all levels of coaches, such as the ‘D’ License- which teaches the basics of the game of football, exposes different methods of coaching and educates all about the laws of the game. This focus on coaching, Phillips said, must be embraced by all, from the president of the various administrations to the groundsman, all of whom must view it as working for the federation and the players.
The courses, Phillips explained, must also involve players who are approaching the end of their careers, as was done by former United States coach Bruce Arena a few years ago and should be enhanced to include ‘C, B and A’ Licenses.
During these courses, coaches are expected to be demonstrators by showing how to execute the basics which would solve the problem of poor possession in T&T football. “I think the main problem in our football has been our inability to keep possession of the ball and this is crucial to improve
the quality of football at the club and national levels.”
He expressed that coaches must be given something to look forward to, such as courses at top clubs abroad, like Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid and called on the pro league to make very effort to have its coaches go out on international courses. “On their return from these courses, football administrators/administration are to ensure they are given the chance to test their knowledge of what they learnt at a team.”
When asked about how clubs and leagues will ensure financial stability, Phillips said it should begin with government and corporate T&T. However he stressed that teams must see it as a responsibility and not a favour, to ensure financiers are given back for their input. “Teams must proudly tag the name of their sponsors on to their uniforms to give as much advertisement as possible,” Phillips said.
He commended pro league chief executive Dexter Skeene for his work but called for a team of experts in their respective fields such as Dr Iva Gloudon, Anton Corneal, Alvin Corneal, Margaret Ottley, Larry Romany, Bertille St Clair, Dwight Yorke and Stern John among others, to get the business of football together for the benefit of all.