so to my final chapter on the Soca Warriors and I find myself
ending with what should be the beginning of all things:
A favourite book of mine, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull,
contains the quote: You must begin by knowing you
are already there. This is a beautiful statement of
vision. Too often, in so many enterprises, including sport,
we begin at the wrong end. A sports programme begins with
vision. Where and how far do you want your players to go?
Coaches must have this vision. A team coach must know what
the goal is for his or her team, what it takes to achieve
that goal and how a well-prepared team should look. The
coach must have a realistic idea of the capabilities of
every member of the team and the capabilities of the team
as a whole.
When Leo Beenhakker decided that our team could get to the
World Cup, he could draw on his experience of having worked
with teams at that level and he could compare our boys to
what he had seen. Because of that, the team could trust
his vision that they could qualify and over time it became
theirs as well. But they needed the vision of someone who
had been there and could show them the way.
Theres another kind of vision that is needed. This
is the vision that sees potential in undiscovered players.
This is why local players were picked to be part of the
Warriors and why Beenhakker felt he could reach the World
Cup with a group of largely unknown players, only one of
whom was playing for a First Division team in the UK.
He saw in them what other coaches and managers had missed.
More importantly, he made every team member see it in himself.
It was no accident that the commentator for the match against
England remarked that, although Chris Birchall was playing
against First Division players whom he called his heroes,
he was himself playing like a First Division man.
In our first game, no-one felt that our team, with ten men,
could withstand the combined might of so many top European
league players on the Swedish team. But thats the
night our boys showed everyone that they knew they were
First Division material. Thats the night everyone
began to respect Beenhakkers vision.
I would be remiss if I ended without acknowledging another
mans vision: Jack Warner. He bankrolled the World
Cup preparations to a large extent. He was also the one
who persuaded Beenhakker to coach the team. He was clearly
a man driven by the vision that the time was now. Because
it was powered by that vision, and those two visionaries,
the teams way was made clear.
The power of vision and of those who believe in their vision.
Action, not words. In case anyone is listening, that is
how you make 2010, 2020, and any other year you like, happen.