Warner Slams Caribbean Coaches

Howard Campbell
Date Published: 
Jamaica Gleaner

'...They Are On An Ego Trip"

CARIBBEAN football has come under the microscope in recent weeks. Conflicting arguments from the game's leading figures from the region since the fifth Shell Caribbean Cup ended a month ago, has raised questions about the standard at present and how capable regional administrators are of addressing the problems at hand.

Trinidadian coach Alvin Corneal got the ball rolling, when, just after the final of the Shell Cup, he remarked that the level of football being played by Caribbean teams was inferior to that of their counterparts in the Western Hemisphere. He added that Martinique and Jamaica, the teams which qualified for next month's Gold Cup in the United States and Mexico, were unlikely to spring any surprises against the more fancied teams.

Jamaica's coach Carl Brown then got in on the act, coming to the defence of the regional game, saying the only thing Caribbean teams lacked in comparison to others like Mexico and Honduras, was exposure. It did not end there. The Caribbean Professional Football League, earmarked as an avenue towards achieving that exposure and eventual professionalism, has toiled miserably in its second year and has come under fire from competing teams who have incurred heavy financial losses brought on by inefficient organization.

On Friday, Austin 'Jack' Warner, president of the Caribbean Football Union and CONCACAF, and who is also a vice-president of FIFA, assessed the state of affairs and while he was optimistic that brighter days were ahead, he too had strong reservations on the present situation.

Warner, in the island to present veteran local referee John Richards with his FIFA credentials, was in a no-holds-barred mood, criticizing regional administrators for lack of professionalism and foresight as well as announcing plans for the improvement of the game.

Tremendous progress

"There is no doubt that the game in the Caribbean has made tremendous progress in the last five years thanks to the advent of the Shell Cup", said Warner. "When I look at the level attained by Jamaica, and the improvement of teams like St. Kitts/Nevis and St. Lucia, I am pleased. They have not reached the standard of Trinidad and Tobago, but they are reaching there."

For these, and other territories to show further improvement, says Warner, the administrators in the respective countries have to institute adequate programmes which will inspire the teams to reach, and maintain, a respectable level. At the moment however, such excercises were non-existent, thus the stagnant situation in most territories.

"Except for Trinidad and Tobago no country in the English-speaking Caribbean has an organized administration with a vibrant coaching system or a viable sports medicine programme", the seemingly frustrated Warner pointed out. "You tell me, how can we go forward if vital areas such as these are continually ignored?"

While dis-agreeing with Corneal on the disparity between the Caribbean and North American teams, Warner had harsh words for the people entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the region's football up to the required standard, namely
the coaches.


"They are terrible", was Warner's straightforward assessment of the coaches. "What is so funny is that they think they are God's gift to coaching. I am telling you, they can carry teams only so far. Most of them don't even understand the basics."

Warner thinks the countries should seriously consider going the way of many Latin and Central American teams and employ overseas instructors: "It's a giant step towards improvement", he said. "What has kept this from happening is simply because our coaches are on an ego trip, they want no help. They think they can do it all by themselves. It's a pathetic problem."

Should regional teams choose not to go that route, then, Warner went on, dark days are ahead: "We will just have to suffer the reality of the situation. Our programme would be pushed back at least ten years. What we are doing now is postponing the inevitable. We have to strive for a level that is acceptable, we can't put the cart before the horse", he said.

Looking ahead, Warner says plans are in the pipeline for the modification of the CPFL and the Shell Cup as well as the introduction of three new leagues which hopefully will generate renewed interest in the sport.

The CPFL, which has come under fire in recent days, "must survive", said Warner, if Caribbean football is to go any further. "We will experience problems in the first four years or so but once the territories stop paying scant regard to the teams and start regarding them as partners, the league will survive."

5-year package

A five-year package with five sponsors — BWIA, Carib Brewery, Pepsi, Umbro and the region's Shell companies — will seek to aid the CPFL, institute a regional schoolboy tournament at the under 17 and 19 levels, and also set up a women's league.

As far as the Shell Cup was concerned, as of next year, the CFU, and not the host country, will run the tournament. Since its inception in 1989, respective hosts have failed to return a profit. It was time, says Warner, for the CFU to step in and take full responsibility: "The organization has been poor and leaves much to be desired. We owe it to the sponsors who have kept faith in us to ensure a properly run tournament." But why the change of heart? The answer was short and simple: "FIFA runs the World Cup, CONCACAF the Gold Cup. We have to show the world we are capable of taking care of our own house."

Warner left the island yesterday for Venezuela en route to Ecuador here he will attend the final of the Copa America tournament.