Foreword by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles
There is no doubt that the Caribbean has produced a culture of sport that ranks among the highest globally. In many disciplines, the evidence of sporting excellence erupting from the region is
extraordinary. It is now possible to make the case that on a per capita basis the Caribbean has
produced more globally recognized sport icons than any other country.
At the centre of this achievement is a tension that has long existed between the display of natural talent and the coaching methodologies designed to produce winning outcomes. The former is a part
of the broader entertainment culture for which Caribbean athletes are known, while the latter is an emerging form that is struggling to find space within the inner circle of excellence expression.
Soccer is the latest, biggest sport on the block, up there with cricket as a public spectacle, and now attracting larger crowds at the grassroots and national levels. This is where Roland Butcher,
after a distinguished career as a British cricketer from the Caribbean, now seeks to awaken the consciousness of the Caribbean soccer craze.
Butcher has seen enough of Caribbean soccer and knows enough of global sport to feel secure in his legitimacy as an author of a comprehensive soccer coaching manual. He has added to his cricket legacy the success of the University of the West Indies’
soccer programme in Barbados just a decade ago. Within a short time, the university’s team became dominant in Barbados, breaking national records and setting new performance standards in the
premier league. Emerging as the most distinguished coach on the island, and seeking to regionalize his coaching excellence, Butcher
reached out to regional coaches with the view of setting up a combined campuses team within the CONCACAF regional structure.
This coaching manual is a major academic and professional achievement. It sets new standards and calls passionately for commitment to precision and purpose. While Butcher’s emphasis is on training to achieve technical skill and competence, the text tells a story of the search for purpose in the discovery of excellence. He understands all too well the audience and presents a document that spans the widest range of readers, from children curious to learn to professionals seeking to hone their craft. There is content and context for all in the search of performance excellence.
Timing is everything. The moment in which skills and consciousness kick in has a great deal to do with the role and function of the coach. This is a matter well understood in the coaching community. Also, soccer as a performance art requires the application of “timing”, an asset that yields high returns consistently. There is no celebrated outcome beyond putting the ball in the net. This coaching manual deals with the training process as well as this ultimate outcome – the science of scoring goals.
For these reasons, Achieving Excellence: Caribbean Soccer Coaching Manual will have many readers and followers. It is well written and accessibly and effectively structured. Soccer is indeed played by individuals on a field but team glory is played out first in the mind and imagination of the coach.