“(Michael) Grayson was, two weeks ago, summarily fired by school principal Ms Linda Francis, without any consultation, discussion or explanation and replaced by a coach who has never won a single title at the senior level and who was fired mid-season by another East Zone school after losing six consecutive games—the team was subsequently demoted from the Premier Division to the Championship Division.
“So much for ‘Striving for Excellence’. Or is this excellence redefined?”
In the following Letter to the Editor, a “Proud, Longstanding Green Machine Supporter” explains why St Augustine Secondary principal Linda Francis might have dropped the ball in the dismissal of boys and girls coaches Michael Grayson and Desiree Sarjeant and the respective staffs:
The motto of the St Augustine Secondary is “Striving for Excellence.” Michael Grayson began as head coach of the school’s football program in 2004 and coached the senior team for twelve years until 2015. During that period, the school won 19 titles—five at the national level and 14 at the zonal level.
His four National League Championships in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010 and a National Intercol Championship in 2013, makes him the most successful coach in the Secondary School Football League during the period of his tenure as coach of the Green Machine’s Senior Boys team.
Only one school, Naparima College has won more national titles over the period—one more title for a total of 6 titles, but not under the same coach.
St Augustine’s 2004 National League tittle was its first national title in 15 years, the previous one being in the year 1989.
Additionally when the Green Machine won the National Intercol title in 2013, the school ended a 29-year drought since its last Intercol triumph in the year 1984.
Before the Green Machine’s first triumph under coach Grayson in 2004, the last East Zone team to win a senior national title was St Augustine who were crowned National League Champs in 1989.
However since 2004 the East Zone was been the most prolific zone at the national level in the SSFL with eight national titles, followed by the North and South Zones with seven titles each. Leading this East Zone resurgence was St Augustine Secondary under Coach Grayson with five of the eight national triumphs by the East Zone.
In 2014, the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) celebrated its 50th Anniversary and coach Michael Grayson was honoured along with six other coaches as one of the top coaches of the quinquagenary (50 year) period.
For the above-listed record of achievement, coach Grayson was, two weeks ago, summarily fired by school principal Ms Linda Francis, without any consultation, discussion or explanation and replaced by a coach—Adrian Romain—who has never won a single title at the senior level and who was fired mid-season by another East Zone school after losing six consecutive games—the team was subsequently demoted from the Premier Division to the Championship Division.
So much for “Striving for Excellence.” Or is this excellence redefined?
Desiree Sarjeant, the Head Coach of the St Augustine Secondary girls football program, and a former national footballer and past pupil of the school, an assistant coach with the National Under-20 Women’s team and Head Coach of St Augustine SC—the current Champion team of the T&T Women’s League Football and made up primarily of past and present players of St Augustine Secondary—was also summarily fired by principal Linda Francis.
The reason given was that she was not sufficiently “qualified” to be employed as a coach by the Ministry of Education.
This notwithstanding the fact the football program handed over a cheque of TT$21,000 to principal Francis, representing prize monies for the 2015 football season and that the school benefits from a football program sponsorship deal with Malta Carib to the tune of TT$60,000.
Sarjeant has won five senior national titles during her tenure as coach of the senior girls team. In 2006, she coached the senior girls team to its first National Intercol title and, in 2013 and 2014, to back-to-back National League and Intercol championships, winning all but one game during that two year period.
In addition, St Augustine Senior also won back-to-back national league titles at the Under-15 level during the same period.
“Coach Desiree” was also singled out at the SSFL’s 50th anniversary celebrations as one of the top coaches in the women’s game.
A total of seven national championships in two years, winning every category for which the school was entered, did not seem “excellent” enough for the goodly principal Francis—notwithstanding Coach Desiree’s offer to coach the team for a reduced stipend, which would be more than covered by the team’s earnings and the sponsorship arrangement.
Instead she is being replaced by some un-named coach.
It is not that anyone is questioning principal Francis’ authority to hire or fire coaches based on her considered judgment.
What is confusing is how come the top performing coaches in the league over the last decade are not good enough in spite of exemplary records of performance, commitment and professionalism, while replacements with no comparable real track record of performance and professionalism are preferred.
Again the only plausible explanation seems to be “excellence redefined” or that the goodly principal Francis has dropped the ball.
Editor’s Note: New St Augustine Secondary coach Adrian Romain pointed out that he quit his post as Trinity College East head coach after three losses—and not six—while he explained that his departure was voluntary after he was offered a demotion to the role of assistant coach.