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Green Machine has dropped the ball in sacking of coaches Grayson and Desiree

“(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?”

Photo: St Augustine captain Joshua Marshall (centre) tries to get to the ball between QRC goalkeeper Jardel Poon-Lewis (left) and defender Adrian Constantine during a 2015 SSFL contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: St Augustine captain Joshua Marshall (centre) tries to get to the ball between QRC goalkeeper Jardel Poon-Lewis (left) and defender Adrian Constantine during a 2015 SSFL contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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.

Photo: SSFL president Anthony Creed (right) poses with 2015 East Zone Intercol champions, St Augustine Secondary. (Courtesy Amigo Garraway/Wired868)
Photo: SSFL president Anthony Creed (right) poses with 2015 East Zone Intercol champions, St Augustine Secondary.
(Courtesy Amigo Garraway/Wired868)

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.

Photo: St Augustine Secondary coach Michael Grayson (standing) tries to console defensive midfielder Ainsworth Grant, after their 2-1 loss to Naparima College in the 2015 National Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium. Grayson has been replaced by Adrian Romain for the 2016 season. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: St Augustine Secondary coach Michael Grayson (standing) tries to console defensive midfielder Ainsworth Grant, after their 2-1 loss to Naparima College in the 2015 National Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Grayson has been replaced by Adrian Romain for the 2016 season.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

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.

Photo: St Augustine Secondary footballers celebrate with the BGTT 2014 Girls' National Intercol trophy. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: St Augustine Secondary footballers celebrate with the BGTT 2014 Girls’ National Intercol trophy.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“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.

Photo: QRC midfielder Joash Williams (left) tries to outrun St Augustine Secondary midfielder Jesse Joseph during 2015 SSFL action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: QRC midfielder Joash Williams (left) tries to outrun St Augustine Secondary midfielder Jesse Joseph during 2015 SSFL action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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.

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152 comments

  1. Lasana, What is happening to this country???? I know both persons and if some people were privileged like me to be around these persons, (especially listening to them in the Dressing Room and on the field) they may be wondering “WHAT” could be the reasons for dismissal. I CERTAINLY WAIT TO HEAR.

  2. This is high class madness and nepotism

  3. Sounds like she only want the students to concentrate on the academics ent. Them really good yes.

  4. This is not over i will speak to the director of school supervision on this matter. This principal is destroying that school. She got rid of the school steelband basketball team netball team now she is attacking the football team

  5. The late Kenny Thomas wasn’t fired. It was not relevant to the discussion.

    • It is becuz the players are protesting based on Grayson success you think if he was unsuccessful they would of wanted him back as their coach ? hence the reason I’m saying tribute must be paid to Kenny Thomas St Augustine has been successful as a team way b4 Micheal Grayson inclusion not discrediting him as a coach .

    • The players never knew Thomas. He didn’t coach any of them. And Wired868 did give courtesy to Kenny on his passing.
      But Kenny Thomas is not relevant here. You might as well mention Osmond Downer and everyone else who played a role.
      This is their reaction to Grayson and Desiree Sargaent.

  6. So who holds the principal accountable? I work opposite Gustine. The football was an excellent outlet to teach, motivate and encourage the students to excel. Her decisions will have an impact that will be felt for years ?

  7. ..Typical nonsense. I don’t know the principal’s thinking but the barest minimum required of her is an explanation to the coaches of her decision to dismiss them. But this is Trini so…

  8. I don’t see anything wrong with that video Lasana Liburd , it’s something we would have done in our time.

    Can you please keep me in the loop, I’ll prefer having a good command of the facts before moving forward. Kester Lendor Brent Bennett

  9. Well boy SMH let me SMH again!!!
    Live Wire is ah boss!
    This country does only talk sports, we not serious. We don’t link anything. We need cohesiveness between TTFA, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health
    All aspiring footballers from primary and secondary schools should be under a division of TTFA because eventually they should filter into the T&T Senior Teams.
    TTFA should have a say, if not, the say on football coaches at the school level (coaches certified by TTFA). Academic qualifications should be required but it should not be the deciding factor. Experience and certification should weigh more than academic qualifications.
    Ministry of Health should also link with schools to ensure ALL athletes have a sports nutritionist in the school system
    No principal should be head hunting for coaches without an input from the respective sporting discipline boards i.e. swimming, basketball, football, cricket etc
    It sounds bureaucratic but what happened at Gustine has HURT the players and coaches tremendously.

  10. Any response from the Prinicipal yet? Or wired868 is not worth of a response?

  11. Well put Sir Jamal, I say this publicly that Mike Grayson is the best youth coach I have seen, my son was priviliged to play under him and won four titles in two years. Not withstanding these facts we must be careful of how we respond to this situation. There are sects of information that maybe required to arrive at a conclusion rather than banter about irresponsible judgements. The principal of St Augustine is the best person to acquire the facts from. What I do know is there are persons dehind the scene fanning the fire of gossip and discord. Welcome to Soccer Warlock in Trinidad. The lad has a lot to offer, let’s not put our heads in the sand Openmindednesss is critical here. He has titles to his name also, in whatever capacity of the game he has functioned in, this includes our Professional League which is classified as the highest level, let’s research the records holisticly.

    • Perhaps you should provide full disclosure in saying the new coach is your nephew… Like Jamal said, no need to crucify the new coach, however if we find out there was backstabbing then is another story. I’ll leave this right there.

    • Well nothing new with the back stabbing thing in our sweet country eh, ah wonder if I should mention some names. Them really good yes.

    • Earl Mango Pierre you eh easy nah

    • Brent the decision was not a case of backstabbing as communicated. There seemed to have had internal discord as in every organization and the incumbent becomes the scapegoat, the facts are far removed and emotions as I said prior comes into play.

    • Brent Bennett this back stabbing thing have been going on a very long time ago eh, why do you think there is no Coaches Association or Players Association up and running long time in our sweet country eh, not because of plenty back stabbing eh, and when the corrupted ex- sports minister started the FFPAT eh, it was only to get their millions from the ex – corrupted Jack Warner and his corrupted TTFF eh, because after that it was just swept under the carpet instead of carrying it on to defend our players rights and educate them about other things eh, and this was done because the Ex- corrupted Sports Minister and his 2 other pals had other agendas eh. Them really good yes.

    • I too will await the facts vs the truth.

    • Raoul great job guiding with your kids

    • The thing is i haven’t heard anyone refute what has been proferred thus far. The principal seem to have her own agenda albeit her prerogative. However, on another note, most if not all school preaches ‘allround education’ of our wards which means that they are ultimately responsible for such. A child with a talent in any sporting discipline cannot get a scholarship with one or two passes in CSEC. A child with a full CSEC certificate and excelling in a sport will most likely get a scholarship as well as a child who just have a full academic CSEC certificate. The point is scholarships are not dependent on a coach but on the school and their ability to mould students academically and well rounded.

    • If the principal, and by extension the ministry of education, were serious about ensuring that student athletes performed well academically they would develop and implement academic standards that students must meet to retain their athletic eligibility. The responsibility for education of the student athlete cannot fall solely on the coach. The coach may be able to inspire and motivate the student to strive for academic excellence – utilizing incentives such as opportunities to introduce them to athletic scholarships etc. However, the school, particularly the principal and teaching staff, are primarily responsible for ensuring that appropriate programs are implemented to help student athletes balance their athletic aspirations with their academics. Athletes go above and beyond to bring fame, recognition, and significant revenue to the schools. They come in early, stay late, and give up their weekends to fly the flags of their school. In return they should be provided with enrichment programs, including tutors and teachers willing to go the extra mile to help them stay current with their academics. Obviously, the student ultimately has to take final responsibility for their academic success.

    • BTW – word has it that the Gustine principal is creating havoc at the school. There is great turmoil between her and her staff. I doubt we have heard the last about this principal and questionable decisions at the school. A number of support staff have already been fired.

    • Thanks Carlos Lee my point exactly. Not forgetting the parents role.

    • I suspect there will be a few students transfers from St Augustine over the next few months

  12. However one must be careful not to blame the new coaches coming into these new jobs just in case they had nothing to do with any undermining.
    Unless we have some facts who has been appointed and how our friends were DIS appointed are two separate issues.
    In saying that total respect for the work out in by Michael Grayson and Desiree Sargeant indeed they stand as two giants in our fraternity.

  13. Ok as a past not so prominent Green Machine I will have to investigate this matter on my return home. I hope this is not a WICBC bug that has bitten the decision makers. So we must get the facts by asking the decision makers what prompted such action and the criteria used to bring in new blood.

  14. 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.

  15. This is a disgrace and travesty.

    I know these 2 coaches personally and worked with both of them, I worked at Arima Senior and in South together with him, Gally, various other places for 19 years; Desiree since she was a National Player up to 3 years ago. They invested so much, and have been winners, of course there was dialogue etc.

    I have been silently listening to “coaches” of school teams plot for the money being paid, envy the money Angus Eve and others are getting etc. The school league is now about the $ for many coaches and the back-biting has reached crisis proportions with this.

    They will destroy player, teams and the League over the money being offered by some schools nowadays, and their ego. With all that this 2 given from their heart, and experience they bring, this is such a sad day.

  16. dexter cyrus we live in a time where loyalty and gratitude does not exist I coached at belmont secondary on 3 occasions 4 free so I can give back 2 my old school then I went 2 the principal who was my former teacher and told her we need a full time coach 4 the program 2 rise again to prominenece she took my advice and hired ken elie not even bringing me In 4 a interview madness yes

  17. So Grayson lose he wuk and man like Lasana still coaching Wired868?

  18. Grayson was fired….lmao this principal is a mad woman. Smh

  19. Courtney Alexander’s son Tyrik was asked to not return to the school until he came im with his parents because he posted on his instagram a/c that it was coach Grayson or nothing.

  20. So messed up Desiree Sargent don’t deserve this apart from being a great coach Des is responsible for keeping these ladies on the straight road and in school such a heart breaking situation.

  21. Maybe the officials at the schools are doing it like in the EPL eh, because some of the coaches at these schools it seems have been coaching for over a million years eh, the same with our Professional League eh, so as Bungi Garlin said “We tired of the same thing over and over” . Them really good yes. hahaha

  22. wtf wrong with she….. that’s what the school is known for… since she went there the school been going no where…. #bringbackmoses

  23. Trevor Spicer was also fired from Eldorado East Secondary and where are they now. Trevor is an assistant coach at St Mary’s College now. Maybe the new coaches are her friends.

  24. SMH…Speechless. … dumbfounded… I’m not a Gustine man but coach Grayson has been one of my mentors since I was 16 years old.. he’s done done a tremendous amount for me and I wouldn’t be as successful in life today if it wasn’t for him…. Unprofessional behavior is ah hell of ah thing….

  25. unbelievable,,,the manner n disrespectful way in which this was done,,to these fantastic coaches,,,horrible shame on u linda francis

  26. I’ll give u the bachannal in this another time!

  27. Hmm, this is rather interesting. Jerren Nixon, Kenneth Thorpe, Richard Willo, Ty Richards what you’ll think of this ?

  28. And i ready to address it Lasana, is u who sticking

  29. I have heard much about the operations of the administration at the school in recent times. It sounds as though the Admin is not focused on the needs and the innate talents of the students at the school. Key areas and programs in which the school has had a history of excelling have been dropped.
    Stories coming out paint the Admin as anti student welfare. And we wonder what’s going on in the wider society? All the students need is a chance…Give it to them please and give them the BEST chance…give people who care about children the job. History would be unkind to the school admin. “Evil prevails when good people do nothing” I call on all good right thinking and reasonable people of the school community to do something…

  30. In my case it was an ignorant, low and under mining committee that brain washed the principal to act against me. All what they say about Mr Earl Alcide, no committee that never play football nowhere, never play fuh Benedicts, never do ah course in dey life, ah surrrrrrrrre none ah dem was taking God out dey thoughts to go een his office and play they bad talking d most successful Coach the school had in the past 17yrs.UNGRATEFUL wanna be somebody

  31. The administrators in St Augustine and St Benedict’s must be reading from the same playbook..

  32. Dexter Cyrus, I know your own departure from St Benedict’s College is highly controversial and needs to be addressed too.