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Dear Editor: National hockey coach ‘Fido’ Francis is victimising Rocke and should be sacked for lacking ambition

“Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Hockey Team head coach Glen ‘Fido’ Francis: ‘We finished seventh in 2011 and 2015, so seventh or eighth is not a big thing’.

“Interesting to note Francis was the coach at these competitions [in 2011 and 2015]! It is unbelievable that members of the TTHB sat in this meeting and seemed to be okay with the nonsensical words that were coming out of Francis’ mouth; or maybe were just too ashamed to comment.

“[…] Are we going to sit idly by and watch Francis destroy the hopes of our talented youths and hockey? […] Why bother having four sessions per week if you already predetermined the result?”

The following Letter to the Editor on Men’s National Hockey Team head coach Glen ‘Fido’ Francis’ decision to snub Malvern SC goalkeeper Andrey Rocke from the national training squad was submitted by Malvern SC technical director David Francois, who is a former National Men’s and Women’s coach, led the T&T women to 2010 CAC gold medals and is the country’s sole High Performance certified coach:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Andrey Rocke poses with his bronze medal at the 2018 CAC Games.

As technical director of the Malvern Sports Club, I was recently invited by my club to attend a meeting with the Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) to discuss the refusal of Men’s National Senior Team head coach Glen ‘Fido’ Francis to allow goalkeeper Andrey Rocke to train with the team training squad in preparation for the 2019 Pan American Games.

Rocke was debarred because he was unavailable, for personal reasons, to participate in one of three beep tests set out by Francis. Rocke wrote to the TTHB asking to be excused from training for a few months because he was pursuing international certification as a physical fitness/training instructor.

But let me backtrack a bit. The TTHB sent out an invitation to all its member clubs [on 23 August 2018] requesting them to inform specific players—including Andrey—to attend one of  three beep tests [which were held on 8, 15 and 22 September 2018].

Malvern shared this information with their players in its Whats App group. Unfortunately, Andrey was not in the group and, as a result, Andrey did not receive the information in a timely fashion.

Once alerted, Andrey wrote the TTHB [on 23 September 2018] indicating his interest to continue as a member of training squad at a later time because of job obligation.

Francis responded to Andrey’s request in the negative, indicating that he would not be allowed to train with the squad because the team—which resumed practise on 6 August 2018 for the July 2019 Pan American Games—would be too advanced with regards to their technical and tactical preparation.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Malvern SC goalkeeper Andrey Rocke makes a flying save.

Andrey then wrote to the TTHB to seek their intervention but the Hockey Board supported Francis’ decision. May I add that this is the same goalkeeper who was solicited—and accepted the invitation to play—two hours after the passing of former goalkeeper Kwesi Emmanuel and one day before the departure of the team for the 2018 CAC Games.

Andrey has been a member of the men’s national team for the last 12 years. His abilities as a goalkeeper are unquestionable. He has amassed 135 international caps and received countless awards for his goalkeeping skills, locally and internationally. He is employed as a physical fitness/instructor and has never failed a beep test or any other test in his years with the team.

Here is my reason for penning this letter: coming out of the meeting, it was very clear that the TTHB and its servant coach Francis is prepared to take a sub-par goalkeeper to our premier regional competition, the Pan Am Games.

Many elite coaches will tell you that your goalkeeper is 70% of your result. They are the one true specialist in the game. If we were to research the number of shots that goalkeepers must save during a match—from penalty corners, field play and shootouts—their performance is far more influential than a striker missing a goal or two.

So, is it in our country’s best interest to omit Andrey at present?

Photo: Malvern SC goalkeeper Andrey Rocke will not have the chance to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the 2019 Pan Am Games.

Let’s examine our national team’s situation. International hockey operates in what we, as international coaches, like to call a four year cycle. The Pan Am Games, which offers our only direct qualifying route to the Olympics, is at the pinnacle of Trinidad and Tobago’s cycle.

Only the Pan Am Games winner qualifies for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, a top four finish allows for automatic qualification to the Pan Am Cup Championships, the CAC games and the Commonwealth Games.

Argentina have maintained a consistent ranking between first to fourth in World Hockey within this cycle (2017-2020). Canada, who we have also never defeated, are ranked 10th with USA  25th, Brazil 27th and Chile 28th. Trinidad and Tobago are ranked 33rd.

Finishing in the top four at the Pan Am Games is always a realisable achievement for our hockey team. Can it be achieved without the best goalkeeper in the country? NO! Absolutely not.

A top four finish gives our men’s hockey team continuity, as it allows for regular qualification and appearances at major competitions. A case in point for the issues caused by taking such tournaments lightly is our ladies team, which has not qualified for the Pan Am Games since 2011 because the TTHB acted in the same way and discouraged some of our most talented players.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national men’s hockey team in action at the 2013 Pan American Cup.
T&T took bronze despite almost missing the competition due to late funding from the Ministry of Sport.
(Courtesy panamhockey.org)

Francis seems to have worked out his team’s situation ahead of the 2019 Pan Am Games and decided that his best possible result is seventh or eighth. Now these are not my words; they are his, during our meeting on Rocke.

Francis: “We finished seventh in 2011 and 2015, so seventh or eighth is not a big thing.”

Interesting to note Francis was the coach at these competitions [in 2011 and 2015]!

It is unbelievable that members of the TTHB sat in this meeting and seemed to be okay with the nonsensical words that were coming out of Francis’ mouth; or maybe were just too ashamed to comment.

I was ashamed for sure, as I understand the importance of the championship—having represented our country at three Pan Am Games.

So how does the rest of the team feel about this? I can guarantee you they don’t agree with coach Francis. And if he did convey that feeling to them, it may be the reason that the national team’s attendances is at an all-time low.

I am still trying to come to terms with the decision to omit your best goalkeeper for your pinnacle competition, knowing the government of Trinidad and Tobago has invested a significant amount of money in the preparation of this specialist player over the years and in this cycle. I believe it is a case of personality clashes and Francis seems to not care about the players and Trinidad and Tobago’s hockey.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Hockey Team head coach Glen Francis (second from left) in a training session.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

Are we going to sit idly by and watch Francis destroy the hopes of our talented youths and hockey? What about the Marcano brothers—Tariq and Teague—training relentlessly in England to make their contribution to the national team this summer at the Pan Am Games? Did ‘Fido’ indicate his feelings to them?

Why bother having four sessions per week if you already predetermined the result? Why not just meet in the Piarco airport and fly out to the championship?!

Gone are the days when we allow decisions like this to go unchecked. Francis must be replaced for that astonishing statement—“We finished seventh in 2011 and 2015 so seventh or eighth is not a big thing”—which says he lacks the necessary coaching skill-set and motivation to lead this team.

If he cannot motivate himself how can he motivate his charges? Shame on you Glen Francis and the TTHB for putting self before country!

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the ruling of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee’s arbitration panel on the issue involving Andrey Rocke versus Glen ‘Fido’ Francis and the Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board.

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TTOC: Hockey coach, ‘Fido’ Francis, was wrong; Rocke can rejoin national team

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16 comments

  1. It’s important to note that this is about “selection to train” for the 2019 PanAm Games. If you take note of the dates… the last beep test was September 22, 2018 and the player contacted the coach September 23, 2018. This is a player who recently played in the CAC games (Jul 19- Aug 3) for said national team. All they needed to do was to contact him, noting that the Rocke may have still been dealing with the death of him teammate and fellow goal keeper Kwasi. It took 8 months to have a neutral party review the situation without bias or baggage to conclude that it would have been reasonable to allow him to do the beep test and join the training squad in September.

  2. This is rubbish. When you allow non-technicians and a legal process to dictate team selection you have lost your way. A coach picks his team and lives or dies by his choices. In football, I believe Lawrence has long lost his way but he will stand or fall by his selection. The keys to this thing are the fact that, 1. Malvern and the player did nit respond to communication, 2. the player failed to attend SEVERAL testing sessions. I with the coach on this one. You think some panel could tell Klopp or Sarri who to pick? Our people simply cannot understand PROCESS.

  3. Could we not have bachannal or strife in any institution for once

  4. “[The] initial decision by [Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Hockey Team hockey coach Glen ‘Fido’ Francis] to exclude Mr [Andrey] Rocke [from his training team for the 2019 Pan American Games] seemed to be on the premise that he knew about the requisite beep tests and just did not attend.
    “There was no concrete evidence presented by the TTHB which clearly showed Mr Rocke knew of all the information related to the beep tests and the conditions for participation in training.”
    The following is a decision by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) arbitration committee, headed by Sonja Johnson, with relation to Men’s National Hockey Team head coach Glen ‘Fido’ Francis and the Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board’s refusal to allow veteran Malvern Sports Club goalkeeper Andrey Rocke to train with the team, after he missed several beep tests:
    https://wired868.com/2019/06/02/ttoc-hockey-coach-fido-francis-was-wrong-rocke-can-rejoin-national-team/

  5. You had me at PanAm…
    Fire Francis! Bring in Rocke and if you doubt his capacity, test him. It’s a failure of the communication system that Rocke was not given a chance to plan his schedule around the initially scheduled tests. Francis sounds like he’s just attempting to spite Rocke and doesn’t care if it harms T&T’s chances at PanAm.

  6. They need to call Nigel Treverso.

  7. Coaching is about building relationships with athletes to get the best from them…. here we use a dictatorial attitude in coaching …. a military style….. and we think more about building our resume rather than striving for success as a team…. coach and athlete…. that military stand in line until your name is called…. is not conducive to effective coaching or success… there are coaches here in athletics who are Level 5 High Performance coaches and haven’t produced any national athletes…. all they want to brag about is the piece of paper that has their name on it…..

  8. Francis: “We finished seventh in 2011 and 2015, so seventh or eighth is not a big thing.” That statement sums up the attitude of some administrators and sports because they are not responsible for financing any of the programmes nor are they help accountable for failing/ineffective programmes.

    • Sherlan Cabralis until we make accountability a part of the process, we will always have people like him just mouthing stupid words, and uncaring about what that result says about their performance.

  9. It’s another example of biasness in sports.

  10. Sounds like a very emotional plea. At the end of the day it sounds like purely a coach’s.

    Whatever personalities clashing with board, clubs, national team staff I don’t know.

  11. This story only getting sweeter and sweeter.

  12. So wait he is the only sole high performing certified coach in our sweet country since 2010 Them really good yes