Sunday, March 3, 2024

A THORNY ISSUE: Reward Harewood for job well done


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What if Colin “Heavy Foot” Harewood leads the national footballers to this year’s Caribbean Football Union’s finals?

What if the team wins?

Wouldn’t he have a good claim to be appointed national coach?

I am sure that even now in the post as interim coach, Harewood has great expectations of holding down the job permanently.

And who can blame him? We must all aspire to reach the top in whatever discipline we choose.

He has been in charge of the seniors since the abrupt departure of the last coach Marcos Falopa of Brazil. The truth is that he has been holding his own and the first win over Curacao a week ago in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) preliminaries did his résumé no harm. Yes, there are several more matches to play in the round robin stage, but we should remain optimistic that the team will go all the way.

I’m raising these observations because I know in some quarters, Harewood isn’t earmarked for the job in the long term, but I think that if he gets the job done in the CFU competition, the Barbados Football Association would be hardpressed to count him out. He would have earned the chance, even if not the right.

I am also raising the issue in light of the fact that Horace “Tobacco “ Beckles wasn’t allowed to carry on as coach after guiding Barbados to the semifinal round in the Concacaf zone for the 2002 World Cup.

It was the farthest we had ever reached at that level and yet he wasn’t given automatic preference to carry on. The administration of the day advertised the job and Kelvin “Cab” Layne was chosen. No hard feelings against a democratic process but I thought it would have been a just reward to allow Beckles to continue to build what he started.

I travelled with the team and I found that Beckles was also an excellent ambassador and a definite asset to the sport and the country. He was also multi-lingual and that skill came in handy in a couple of the jurisdictions where Barbados played.

Still, that nor the football achievement was enough to impress those in charge.

I was also amazed that Thomas Jordan was also shifted after leading the team to the CFU final round in Jamaica in 2008. He and his assistant Jerry Skeete made a good partnership but were relieved of their duties after orchestrating a very commendable performance from the team. To his credit, Jordan proved his love for the game and country by accepting to be Colin “Potato” Forde’s assistant.

The point I am making is that there are precedents where successful coaches have been brushed aside, so that makes me worry for Harewood and the prospect of keeping the job.

Even so, I hope the BFA has had frank discussions with Harewood about the possibilities even if the team performs well with him at the helm. To dump him like a hot potato would be sending the wrong signal and could demoralise other local coaches who are qualified and can deliver the goods.

The point to ponder is that local coaches don’t usually get all of the benefits of foreign coaches in terms of team preparation before major tournaments.

For instance, Falopa was afforded four warm-up matches against quality opposition and we could see the difference once the 2018 World Cup qualifiers started. I am sure they would have made great progress were it not for the managerial slip that cost them their place.

More often than not, Harewood and his local predecessors aren’t afforded such luxuries perhaps on financial grounds and generally we see the effects of this in the result.

Still, I wish Harewood and his charges the very best in the present assignment and hope he gets his due if all goes well.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced sports journalist and media consultant.


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