The genesis of it all - Veteran coach Carl Brown back at Boys' Town
AS the old adage goes, "Home is where the heart is", and for former national head coach Carl Brown, who recently returned to his roots at Boys' Town Football Club, there's no place like it.
Brown grew up in the Trench Town community which serves as a base for the Collie Smith Drive club and served there not only as a player and team captain, but also as a coach.
Even when he wasn't serving in an official capacity with the club he has always remained involved.
After returning to Jamaica in February following a four-year stint in the Cayman Islands, where he was technical director of the British territory's football programme, Brown has returned to where it all began.
"Even though I've been away for four years, physically, spiritually, I've always been here," Brown shared with the Jamaica Observer, adding that team technical director Andrew Price has never allowed him to give up on the club.
The 'Red Brigade', as the club is affectionately known, was founded in 1940 by Reverend Father Hugh Sherlock, who also co-wrote Jamaica's National Anthem.
Brown, who described Sherlock as one of the most influential human beings he has ever met, says he has become the contemporary version of Sherlock.
"Father Sherlock has always been the beggar for us. I put myself in that position because I want to continue that," he said, noting that Boys' Town has been the better for Sherlock's influence.
"... I find nothing too tough to go out to a business to ask. I've gotten a lot of no, but if I get one yes, I'm really encouraged and it keeps me going," he says.
In its heyday, Boys' Town was one of the most highly respected football outfits in the island. They won the National League title on three occasions in 1984, 1986, and 1988, but then fell from top flight for several years.
The team has since returned to the Premier League and came close to winning the national title both last season and the season before, but could not hold on.
Brown said anyone who was a part of the club in the old days learned how to play table tennis, checkers, cricket and football.
"It was always inner-city and Boys' Town was created out of that — the need to keep the youngsters occupied."
The club has also become a shadow of its former self.
"Politics destroy this entire community and the separation of the family," Brown declared. In terms of support, finding the right funding has always proved challenging.
"Our only sin is where we are located," Brown stated. "Because in terms of what we have produced from a human point of view in terms of people who have gone out to serve this country, we have really done magnificently.
"If you look around our field now, there is one billboard up. If you go to Tivoli (Gardens) there are 30 or 40. We are just not able to get the same kind of support," he lamented.
His dream is to enclose the football field and leave only two entrances so that a respectable gate receipt can be collected to help provide lunch money for the poorest young children who go to the basic school.
The 25-year coaching veteran and former national captain said while he has gotten offers to work with other clubs, he would not leave his home.
"It's just not the same. Seeing mothers come and say, 'Coach, if it wasn't you my son would have died already.' It's not just about a cheque; it's a satisfaction of trying to make a difference in a young boy's life."
And Brown, who coached the senior Reggae Boyz in five different stints, has seen a difference in the lives of the young boys who get involved in football at the club.
"The young ones who come, their whole attitude is different," he said. "I want to let the youngsters know that there is an opportunity for them if they do the right things.
"Father Sherlock told me I was different and I want to be that special person that Father Sherlock saw," Brown declared.