After a very intense and demanding 80 hours of lectures, practical sessions, didactic training session observations, didactic game observations, visits to training centre facilities and stadium structures, and evaluation meetings, it's now over.
It has been an extremely demanding nine days of non-stop, devoted learning. An enormous volume of information was shared and numerous indelible experiences gained and at the end of it all this past Monday, quite fittingly, all 15 participants — Lester Smith of Grenada, Andrew Edwards, Jamaica National Under-20 men's coach, Andrew Price, technical director of Boys' Town FC, Junior Francis of Reno FC, Laurence Garriques of UTech, Jeffrey Hewitt and Calvin Lewis of Portmore United, Harold Thomas of Harbour View FC, David Pryce of Volvo FC, Marcel Gayle of Waterhouse FC, Alvin Shaw of Tivoli Gardens FC, Vassel Reynolds and Nigel Stewart of Sporting Central Academy, and Jamaal Shabazz and Wayne Dover of Guyana National Football team — successfully earned certificates of achievement.
Without doubt or fear of contradiction all the participants have completed this course on merit and could lead the way for better coaching practices in their respective environments.
Calvin Lewis, coach of the 2011-2012 Premier League champions Portmore United FC shared his perspectives: "I found this course to have been very informative, it has been a real eye opener for me. We now need to, as close as possible, implement and establish a model of what we have seen here in Brazil towards the development of football in Jamaica.
"The experience categorically shows that with good facilities and resources, specialist professionals, and structured organisation, success at the highest level is attainable on a sustained basis. The knowledge and the demonstrations of the aspects of the game as illustrated by the instructors of the Traffic Academy are fantastic. Special thanks to the JFF, the PLCA and Professor Walter Gama for making the dream (football experience in Brazil) a reality."
The nine days of learning and camaraderie helped to build not just discipline and knowledge amongst the participants but also new friendships and networks, and improved individualities and interactions.
Back home the coaches will look forward to applying what they have learned towards the greater good of improving the quality of their own coaching and by extension improve the players they work with. They also look forward to keeping each other honest and up to par with respect to our individual and collective experiences as they endeavour to forge new synergies as coaches.
These past nine days have served to open the proverbial 'Pandora's Box'. The JFF, the PLCA, the clubs and schools from which they come must now brace themselves to facilitate the transitions that their new experiences will necessarily demand. Colleague coaches who were unfortunately unable to make it to this course must now take time to seek from them all they can and are willing to share. They must also begin to make preparations for what will be a new and much improved version of the course next year.
There was very little down time to enjoy other aspects of Brazil outside of football. Notwithstanding, the friendliness, courtesy and cordial demeanour with which the coaches were received at Traffic Academy, Sao Paulo FC, Santos FC, in the malls, at the gas station, in the stadium, in the museum was inexplicably overwhelming.
The director of Traffic Academy Professor Lucas Goes in his closing statements indicated that "(they) the coaches and players, have learned much more, we believe, than you did from the interactions we shared. There is an empty feeling, especially among the players, now that the time has come when you must go. Traffic Academy will always be open and available to you whenever you need us,
His statement was followed by an intensely emotional exercise where the Traffic Academy U-15 players, with whom the coaches worked almost always, bade them farewell with Desportiva De Brazil (the name of the affiliated professional club) memorabilia shirts, handshakes and hugs.
There is much more to be said about this course and the experiences of the past 10 days. In due time, for sure, several of the coaches will make presentations to varied groups and organisation.
The JFF, the PLCA and Professor Gama must be credited for the foresight and vision, the wisdom and courage to have made this investment. The onus is now on the coaches to bring back the knowledge and experiences gained to ensure the investment made will be a profitable one.
And while embracing such expectations and the accompanying responsibilities, the coaches are not foolish. They are cognisant of the environment within which they operate and recognise that there are challenges, that there will be new challenges and certainly oppositions to these efforts. Nonetheless they are keen to ensure that their work will be their testimonies.
Editor's note: Andrew Edwards is a schoolboy and National Under-20 football coach and a teacher
at St Elizabeth Technical High School.