Sports and moreso football in many ways, as we know it now have become different to how it used to be only a few decades ago. Football has always evolved. Gone are the muddy pitches, heavy leather balls and the 1-2-7 formation of the game’s origins in the 1870s. Massive player and coach wages, high-tech training complexes and evolving tactics are all influences which have shaped the sport in recent years. But are there common threads that we can see in the coaching of the game which still ring true? From past coaches and players who have made outstanding contributions, there have been philosophies and lessons the most successful and famous in the history of the game have had to pass on. The question remains, have we sufficiently tapped into this?
This country lost another icon last week in Sedley Joseph, named the Trinidad and Tobago's football captain of the century for his display as a National Team and Maple captain. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had a proper sit down with the 80-year-old in his front gallery at his Valsayn home in March. While he was on radio earlier this month, our interview would be remembered as his final words on camera. Initially my intention was to capture his words of wisdom and recollection of his experiences and have it published in hope that it could serve as not just a history lesson but an inspirational clip for many to view in years to come. The interview can be viewed on the TTFA's Youtube channel.
His final words during the interview stuck with me. "It was a pleasure having this interview with you. Most people forget old people you know. I was shocked when my sister in law told me you said you were coming to do this interview. Well, a lot of the people nowadays who are playing won't know us, the chaps who played football in the 60s and so on. They may have heard a name or so. Only the older chaps would know us and it was really an opportunity for me to sit down and talk to you. And I'm happy that I was able to give you some of the information you would have required," Joseph stated.
Like he said, most times we tend to forget or look past the older ones who have contributed and who still have so much knowledge to pass on. And this tends to be an issue not only in sport but also other forms of life.
Productivity seems both easily accessible and endlessly elusive today. We enjoy a plethora of modern productivity tools yet most times with no friggin’ idea how to delegate. Many of us end up staying busy trying to do things the modern way and are at times more stressed rather than actually taking command of our time. Productivity apps and methods aside, it might do us some good to do a bit of reflection. Let’s see what some of the past century’s most extraordinary minds have to say. After all, they were able to get a lot done. No National team has ever won a medal at the Pan American Games. Sedley's 1967 Squad achieved this by winning bronze.
Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier in 1975
Sedley's knowledge of people and human relationships was his strength. He even knew which of his players were prone to ‘over-socialising’ and made sure he got them out of trouble. He made sure he knew the background of his players, including the names of his players’ extended family and those around them. I picked up all of this during our conversation so it isn't hearsay. His entire way of working was to understand his players and work towards achieving a “pure, beautiful” style – something all modern coaches and captains could aspire to.
Now don't get me wrong. It's fantastic to have the likes of a Dwight Yorke, Shaka Hislop, Russell Latapy and Stern John among others from the recent modern era. As a leading figurehead of the sport, first as a player, then as a manager and commentator, Sedley remained an icon and role model for all the generations behind him. We must value the importance of role models for young players.
Every kid around the country who plays football should want to be like Sedley who carried a great responsibility to show us not just how to be like a football player, but how to be a man. This is a key part of being a role model which many players in that position do not recognise. It is a privilege to be a role model, but with it comes responsibility. Whether you’re a coach or a player, if you have young players looking up to you, it’s vital to look at their development holistically – set examples for them to learn as people as well as on the pitch.
Let us not let opportunities and good people slip by without tapping into them for the benefit of our present and future.
Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab. And 70 is f*@king awesome!” ~Helen Mirren
Shaun Fuentes worked as a FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa as well as the FIFA U-17 Men's World Cup in Nigeria and 2013 FIFA U-20 Men's World Cup in Turkey. He made his first overseas trip with the Trinidad and Tobago Men's Senior Team for a 2002 CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Jamaica in Kingston and Costa Rica in San Jose at age 20 in 2001.