Wednesday 13th February, 2008



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Former Soca Warriors coach Wim Rijsbergen and TTFF Special Advisor Jack Warner in happier times.


The story may have appeared to be one which Wim Rijsbergen wanted to leave an awful picture of our Footballers and by extension, the people of this country.

Having read the article which was published in the local Newspaper, after it was given to the Dutch leading newspaper, I was only half surprised.

Here was a man who was invited to reside in this country as an assistant to one of his countrymen Leo Beenhaker. It was not a decision which the local Federation had to make, because they gave Don Leo the right to bring along his own coaching staff.

Those who followed the proceedings of WC Germany 2006 team preparation would have known that Beenhaker did not really want any assistants, other than to make take minor roles in viewing local players and maybe doing some scouting.

Wim would be the first to comment that he hardly ever agreed with his boss, but had to refrain from too much crosstalk against Leo’s philosophy.

In the middle of all this preparation, there were times when Wim may have rubbed some people in the wrong direction, with a special head on clash with David Nakhid who was also part of the coaching staff before he was fired.

We all knew the history of our trek to Germany and satisfactory performances by the team. We also are aware of Don Leo’s decision to move on and leave his friend and countryman with the job.

Whether or not Wim canvassed for the job, it will never be known, but if one was following the reports from him on the newspapers and TV, he seemed never satisfied with what was transpiring.

He groused consistently about the absence of the “blacklisted” players, to a point where one could have gotten the impression that there was a special list of names of the players which he agreed to coach at the national level.

He immediately claimed that the local players were not of the standard he wanted and the existing dilemma was not allowing him to do his work.

Certainly, that would have been an extraordinary arrangement. My impression is that a national coach is employed to prepare a national team with the players available in the country and wherever else our qualified citizens lived or worked.

He reluctantly worked with the local players in the Digicel tournament and gained good results, much to his surprise. He qualified for the Gold Cup in June of 2007 and failed only by a one goal difference to enter the quarter final stage, all WITHOUT the foreign based players.

Then the much needed mediation took place and happily, the players became available for the national team.

But just when we were waiting to see the former World Cup playing Dutchman marshall his forces towards South Africa 2010, he decided to enter some form of confrontation with the country’s Technical director, where his aggravating behavior provoked an unwarranted level of behavior.

The TTFF dealt with the matter in the way that they should and Wim’s acceptance of the suspension left us all with the belief that he knew he had done the wrong thing and would stay out his term.

At that point, it would seem to me that the federation should have had a look at his contract to determine whether or not he had contravened any clause in his contract.

This may have left them with a legitimate option to end his contract and get on with the job.

Clearly, the TTFF was unable to wait through the period and decided to look elsewhere for his replacement.

But instead of filing the lawsuit which he had claimed he would, he decided to explain to his colleagues in Holland and other parts of the world that he was working with a society where everyone tended to thrive on liming, drinking, eating themselves to obesity and sit under coconut trees.

My attention was drawn to this, not because I am unaware that these issues actually exist in many of our players, but I wanted to know how long ago, did the Dutchman have that impression of our people. Two and a half years is quite a long time, and I believe that it takes only about two holiday weekends to understand the mentality of our people.

If he did not like the lifestyle, why then did he accept the job? if he had a problem with Jack Warner making all decisions regarding his job, why did he accept it?

Wim was a very disgruntled man and never actually said good things about our Football and the local players.

Maybe the break in relationship between Wim and the TTFF was timely in favor of both parties.

In the middle of this confusion, do not ignore the comments made by Wim about the attitude of our players. We all have stories which will endorse this type of behavior by some of the players, so maybe this is an area which we must follow the message and not the messenger.

I hope that there were many lessons which are there to be learnt from the association with Wim. I have always been of the belief that many of the professional coaches who accept employment in lesser developed countries, must make careful assessment before jumping at the big payday.

Francisco Maturana is the most qualified coach which we have ever employed and his personality and lifestyle would probably be closer to our own. His English is not great, but he has been doing well to cope with it.

I wish Wim Rijsbergen well and hope that his coaching position in Holland will bring him to work with all quality players. That was his wish here.

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