Video analyst Sanford Carabin proving his worth with Reggae Boyz

Thursday, October 14, 2021


SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – On the insistence of Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, a performance video analyst has been contracted to the senior Reggae Boyz.

His job is to assess performance, using video, to develop an understanding of actions that can inform decision-making, optimising performance and support coaches and players in their journey towards optimal result.

This consists of tactical assessment, movement analysis, video and statistical databasing and modelling and coach and player data presentations.

The man now tasked to do that job is Canadian Sanford Carabin.

Starting out as a coach, and still a coach, Carabin has been a technical director at four clubs in Canada, as well as a district, overseeing a district for the past 15, 16 years. Majority of the clubs he has been with have been clubs with between 3,000 and 5,000 players, big clubs, national licensed clubs.

“Along the way I've completed national licences in both Canada and the US. I have my A licence in the US, my National B in Canada and I'm just finishing my UEFA A licence in Europe, which I started many years ago,” shared the 52-year-old, who admitted that he didn't take the modern-day path to where he is now.

But Carabin resigned his job as technical director at North Mississauga Soccer Club recently, sacrificing lucrative, consistent pay package to focus full time on the Reggae Boyz and Reggae Girlz for the next seven months.

The man with a Scottish background originally got involved with the Reggae Girlz five years ago when then goalkeeper Coach Hubert Busby, with whom he grew up very close to, invited him to lend support in a field that he had started educating himself on three years prior.

He was using it in his clubs primarily as a tool for coach education, so he would videotape a coach doing a practice and he would come back and sit with that coach, so part of his role in that club was to make their coaches better, so he used video as a tool to help out coaches.

At the same time he would use the same video for the players. It started to evolve and he invested personally in taking courses. Having a coaching background and understanding the phases of the game made him probably fast-track to being a good analyst. He knew the game from an analytical point of view already, it was now just how can he change that and use those tools and really focus on helping coaches understand the game.

“In my role as technical director I invested in aerial cameras. I started looking at how we break down games, buy all kinds of software tools to use to facilitate the workflow processes and then eventually started to educate myself in using it at a higher level. So by the time Coach Busby called me I was fairly confident I could deliver what they were asking. And what they were asking was 'could you come on our trip for a Concacaf qualifier in Honduras, film our games and cut moments of the game and use it to help the players improve, whether that was tactically as a group or individually as a player',” he said.

He added: “So I brought all my camera equipment over, filmed the games and then broke them down and provided clips for the coaching staff and that was the first time I think anyone in Jamaica used video because the men weren't using it at all.

“I then kept going with the Girlz through the 2018 qualifying for the World Cup, got to understand that some of these girls have analysts at their professional clubs. The hardest part was convincing the leadership at the JFF (Jamaica Football Federation) that this is a tool that is standard practice now.”

After all, it is an example of best practice, all the teams have it, Jamaica wanted to stay modern and the JFF didn't have to spend a lot of money. If they trusted in him, he would start to develop it for them, so it was used a lot in qualifying, the Reggae Girlz got results and everybody was happy going to the World Cup.

Carabin insists that performance video analysis is just a teaching tool that is meant to inform the coaching process, not to replace it, so his job is to provide insights for the staff to then look at and see if they can utilise that and create a game plan.

“I met Coach 'Tappa' in 2019 when the Reggae Girlz did a tour of the country and I explained to him what I was doing, he seemed interested but his concern was financially they (JFF) may not have the resources to bring me on board and I said 'no problem' and never thought much about it after.

“Then I got a call last year to come on a call and explain in more details. At the same time I was improving the Girlz programme by providing more visual tools to utilise, things like creating more individual development plans for the Girlz so when they go back to their clubs we send them clips with the areas that need to be worked on based on performance at the camps.

“We also started communicating with their professional clubs so that these clubs know that when the players come to Jamaica the best practices are in place in this particular field which is performance analysis, so I was asked to put a presentation together, I did a couple,” explained Carabin.

He noted that he was supposed to go to Japan as a test, but couldn't but he created an opposition report on Serbia and Japan. The game against Japan got cancelled and Whitmore used his report for Serbia and a lot of the stuff that he put in there, basically an analysis of Serbia's last 10 games.

Carabin says he normally looks at the opponents' last five games but for that tour he had more time, so he did 10, and plotted how they were going to play, what they were going to do in attack, in defence, this is how they are going to set up in corners and a lot of it came through. Whitmore called him and he needed him to come to the Gold Cup.

“So now we are at the Gold Cup and the whole idea was to find a way to build into the workflow of a camp, so every practice is filmed. Things that are good in practice that we want to reinforce to the players we would cut them out send them to either the individual player or present as a team. I created presentation templates for match day, so now as of today players are coming to me after we presented what we did against Canada (on Sunday), as happened to exactly how they were going to play, I knew how they were going to set up, I knew what they would do and I think after the game they were like 'he was right, they do play one side and instead of switching it they go back to that strong side. They do that all the time'.

“So I think it is slowly building trust between myself, the players and the staff. Coach Tappa, Coach Paul (Hall) are being supportive of my role. Coach Tappa wants to know more, he may not use it and I accept the fact that I could spend 40 hours on work and he decides not to use that piece of info,” Carabin said.

The Canadian is aware that his position could be considered tenuous but he is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Jamaica National men's and women's senior teams. He's also thankful that the JFF bought into that side of the game and he noted that there are plans to educate coaches at the lower levels in Jamaica in the near future.

For yesterday's game Carabin believed he provided enough information on the opposition to help Whitmore and his staff.

“They are going to be very aggressive, they are going to be physical, they are going to try to get in our faces, they are going to work the ref for fouls, typical Honduran team, no different from previous years.

“Maybe the difference now in this particular Honduran team is we expect they are going to take more risks in the game, so they are maybe going to try to push more players forward and when you do that you leave yourself exposed when you lose the ball. So that is one of the things we will make sure the players are conscious of that the moment we win the ball, can we take advantage of them being out of position and spaces open up because they've risked a lot.”

For Whitmore, Carabin and what he brings to the team is of great importance.

“Very important and he plays a critical role in what we are doing in terms of analysing opponents and our team and we strategise on how we can approach games, areas of teams where we can exploit, etc. We have a good working relationship with him and I think the players are receptive to him, so I think Carabin brings a lot to this campaign,” Whitmore said.