MONTEGO BAY, St James — Oliver Slowley, Dewight Jeremiah and Michael Senior were the toast of the 13th cohort of the JMMB/JFF/UTech Coaching School that had its graduation ceremony at the Montego Bay Civic Centre on Thursday.
All three men topped the two-week Advanced Level One course that was held in July with scores of 83 per cent from the 38 coaches that participated from the parishes of Westmoreland, St James, Trelawny, and St Elizabeth.
Slowley works at the Lacovia High School in St Elizabeth, Jeremiah coaches the Jamaica Football Federation's Captain's Bakery and Grill Western Super League team, while Senior coaches the Reno FC Under-17 team in Westmoreland.
Roy Thomas, associate director of the school, told the ceremony that of the 38 men who took the course, 36 were given certificates of achievements, while two received certificates of participation having failed one of the two sections of the course, representing a 95 per cent pass rate.
He said the breakdown of the affiliation of the coaches showed a wide cross section of age-group as eight coaches came form high schools, two from primary schools, 22 from clubs while three each were either new coaches or coaches with a lot of experience but no certification.
Jamaica Football Federation President Captain Horace Burrell, who was the guest speaker, told the graduates their move to get certified would make Jamaica's football better.
"I am confident that the move that you have made will help to enhance Jamaica's football development, there is no doubt about that, we are going to be better off as a nation because of the serious step that you have taken to formalise your football training."
Burrell urged the coaches to take their responsibilities seriously. "Remember that if you perform your duties and your tasks with professionalism, dedication with the highest level of discipline the youngsters who you teach will certainly grasp all those great qualities and be better footballers and oh what a better country Jamaica will be in terms of our football."
He added: "I want you to understand that you have now entered into the ring, you are now a serious contender for impacting on the lives of the youngsters who you will be offering instructions to."
The introduction of the JMMB/JFF/UTech Coaching School, he said, has changed the face of coaching in the country as "no longer can people take up a whistle and put on T-shirt and run around field calling themselves coaches...that is long gone never to return".
Burrell said he was convinced that if there was a coaching school in place earlier Jamaica's football product would be much further advanced. "I am convinced at times that we have had in the past the greatest footballers in our history, but never really reached far. They had a good start, but I am convinced that if we had been able to move the football to this level as early as those times our football development would have been far advanced ahead of where we are at today.
"Nevertheless it is never too late for a shower of rain, having been through your course and having been successful, I want you to know your work has just begun, you are going to be the trailblazers, you are going to be setting the tone, example, the teachers for those youngsters to follow," he said.
He also stressed the importance of discipline. "I want you at all times to demonstrate the highest standards of discipline whilst you are imparting the instructions to those you are instructing, everything that you do will be emulated by these youngsters... it is very important that you conduct yourselves with the highest degree of discipline, dignity and integrity as you teach these kids."