Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lacking Leadership - the Peter O'Connor commentary

That heading is a global statement about us; our country, government, opposition, institutions, companies, labour, churches, and sport. 

I am sorry for whom it may offend, but it is really an undeniable fact, and if and when we can acknowledge this, we may begin to climb out of the slough of despond in which we are so deeply mired. Denial and pretence will only sink us deeper in despondency, “irregardless” of our drunken laughter and false mirth.

If you doubt me, and question my harshness, then show me who might lead us? Who can lead the country? Which of the senior police officers, from Acting Commissioner down, can you suggest to lead our police service to competence and pride? 

Which businessman here, with the banking system drowning in liquidity, has the vision and capability to diversify our economy instead of begging government for “corporate URP”? And where is a labour leader who can lead the new working class into the age of technology and self-employment? And finally, who among us can lift our football to the promise of the talent we possess?

So it is to my former affairs, and enduring love—Football—that I return today, having not written about the sport for a long time. And this is about who should be coaching our national football team. And it is not about names, but rather traits. 

The trait that is required to lift us, and our football is, first and foremost-- Leadership. Of course, the person must know football, must be a competent strategist, and a fair and capable assessor of his players and of the opposition. But leadership is the key to him being able to impart his knowledge, to inspire his charges, wring the changes, and to overcome the adversity which the occasion may bring. 

And moreso, to inspire among his charges the confidence in him as Leader, to develop them as individuals, as a team, and to lead them to victory. And we need to acknowledge that in the final analysis, “leadership” is bestowed by the led, but only upon the competent, fair and trusted. For no matter your credentials, or your history, if you do not have the confidence of your troops, you cannot lead them to success.

Would you care to list the persons, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, whom we can classify as “leaders”, based upon the above, or any other criteria of leadership you embrace? If it is any help, I will publish here my list of local coaches who meet or met my criteria: Everard Gally Cummings. End of list.

In my life supporting, and then as an administrator of local football, I have seen our National Squad “lifted” from mediocrity to capability only three times. The first was in 1973, when Kevin Verity, ably assisted by Edgar Vidale and Hen Henry “won” the final qualifying round for West Germany 1974 in Haiti, only to be cheated by refereeing dishonesty. 

Then, late in 1987, Gally Cummings took over a demoralized young group and almost led us to Italia 1990. Finally, a collapsing campaign for Germany 2006 was rescued by Leo Beenhakker’s appointment and we went to the World Cup. And I am not debating “foreign” versus “local” here. In the valleys in between those three peaks, we had local failures and we had foreign failures. I am discussing competence in leadership.

As a people, we tend to chose everything and everyone by friendship, or some other emotional state. From chairmen of state enterprises to football coaches, we want to give some “friend” a chance, or choose someone whom we “like”, or who may just be a popular choice. The potential for results is not a priority. Our current, or immediately former football coaches were not getting the job done. 

In sport, as a coach, you win or you go, and Hudson Charles and Jamaal Shabaaz were not winning. These are good people, and they worked hard, but they did not lift our team or our football, so they must move on, and replacements brought in. 
We all know Leo Beenhakker, but I really do not know Stephen Hart. Hart does have experience which we do not have here, and how he applies it remains to be seen. And how he is “accepted” by the squad, our media and our people. I am however heartened by the comments of Shaka Hislop, Kelvin Jack and Stern John regarding these appointments. 

True and respected professionals, who have worked seriously overseas, and understand our shortcomings. Shortcomings for which we need not blame ourselves too much, for they are shortcomings of lack of exposure and experience. But we do need to develop the confidence to acknowledge that we do not have the leadership experience we need—in all our fields of endeavour. Then we can lift ourselves.

1 comment:

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai