Mount Pleasant turn it up with Downs signing

Sports

Mount Pleasant turn it up with Downs signing

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 09, 2020

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DRAX HALL, St Ann — Mount Pleasant Football Academy are putting in the ground work for extended excellence after they announced the addition of the veteran English coach Walter 'Wally' Downs to head their youth academy for the next three years.

The 59 year-old former Wimbledon midfielder, who has had an extensive coaching career serving as first team manager at clubs such as Wimbledon, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and West Ham, was announced at a press conference at the club's base at Drax Hall earlier this week.

Downs will take over from Vannie Clarke.

The Mt Pleasant Academy, which opened its doors in 2018, has achieved success, both locally and internationally, and president Peter Goule says it was time to expand the operation.

“We have kids who have been to Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Dallas, and some of these kids have hardly lost a match... Vannie Clarke can't coach 300 kids by himself; a top coach can coach only 16 to 20 at a time, [so] this will free up Vannie to be the principal at the school and plan the future,” Goule said a press conference.

Downs, who also had a coaching stint in India, welcomed the new challenge and said he was looking forward to it.

“I have been involved at every stage, every level of football in England, but what I haven't been involved in, is building something from scratch where I get my chance to put my footprint on what goes in the future,” he said.

He praised what Goule and his team has been able to achieve so far and said he was anxious to add to it.

“What's come so far is brilliant and now they have asked me if I can come and add to that and if I can add anything, even 50 per cent of the enthusiasm, and the speed that you have got to where you are over the next three years, then I would be more than happy because everything is geared to be successful,” said the Englishman.

Downs, who guided Reading FC to promotion to the English Premier League in 2006, said so far everything he has experienced has been positive.

“There is no one that I have spoken to who is putting up little speed bumps in the road or 'we won't be able to do this we won't be able to do that', everybody is positive about what is going on and as I said, it is really refreshing,” he noted.

Downs, who has worked with several well known English coaches including Harry Redknapp, Sam Allerdyce and Steve Coppell, said he would not restrict himself to just the youths set up, but if asked, said he was ready to help with the Red Stripe Premier League outfit as well.

“I hope that I can help out, if required, if the manager of the first team asks me something from watching the games. I would be more than happy to talk to him, but that's his baby, from watching the game and we discuss it, I will chat with him if he wants my help and to look at the opposition, and I am more than happy to do it.”

Downs will be heading back to England to assemble his staff and will be scouring the Premier League academies to find candidates that can work in the Jamaican situation.

“What I will do is I will contact every academy manager in the Premiership when I get home and ask them if within the last 18 months 'have you had to make any decision on any coaches that you have had to let go which is purely financial or for any other reasons', would they be suited for me to interview to come out here.

“So there is a pool of coaches that I would draw from the Premier League and they would have Premier League B academy status, so they would be allowed to coach in the Premier League up to 16-18 age groups, so they would have all the qualities. I can't give any names now because I am relying on the technical directors at Premier League clubs to give me that list to interview to see if they want to come over and help,” he said.


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