“[…] In boxing, there’s a term called a ‘bad beating’ in which the victims never quite recover to fight at an equal or better level. It is why some fights are not taken and why some corners throw in the towel.
“Where was the initiative to protect these players’ psyche from a ‘bad beating’ that could have been much worse? He has now established inferiority, and if it dwells in the squad it can ingrain defeatism…”
The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to Wired868 by Sherwyn Besson, who is an author, business teacher at New York City Department of Education, and a former Trinidad and Tobago national youth team player, with an advanced coaching certificate from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America:
The text read: ‘Bredda, yuh see that shit last night boy??? Geez. Thrillers (a small goal championship franchise from La Horquetta in the 80’s) would have played better. As an ex-national, that must have boiled your blood.’
And it did. I had already dissected the game 20 minutes in, and the brutal indictment called for ‘systemic change’, having followed the association’s turmoil the previous years. The Soca Warriors were a bait dog on Sunday night.
Bait dogs are good for mutilation practice by the game dog without the risk of harm to the latter. Bait dogs are not meant to recover, go to the hills and train, learn new Shaolin techniques, and then exact vicious revenge. They are irreparably maimed and killed.
And that is what we were in Orlando—a bait dog.
The professional coach that led us left much to be desired in his decision to take this fixture, and his post-match comments. He could not care less about our national psyche and identity, which is closely tied to sport.
His perfunctory excuse about proximity measurement required against the best in our region bears little value, because any coach with their fundamentals and technicals in place understands that progression is critical to developing and inspiring belief.
There was no gradual climb to challenging fixtures after crisis and turmoil in the association and a pandemic that has dented opportunities for preparation. No. The decision was indefensible.
Let’s take on the best in our region, who happen to be churning out world class talent like a 70s GM auto-plant. Instead of conceding that this was an error, our team leader doubled down, as though Trinidadians are not sophisticated about football at every level.
At its best, his response was condescending; and at worst, it was dismissive of our culture.
Our leadership sanctioned the coach to take a woefully ill-prepared squad to represent all that we are and have been, treating what we hold precious as a disposable commodity to strengthen the confidence and egos of the American machine, as though they need more psychological currency.
Developing a giant-killer mentality starts with small steps, including confidence-boosting wins and hardening the unit; and it ends with a confident, hungry, and well-prepared David ready to take on an over-confident Goliath.
In boxing, there’s a term called a ‘bad beating’ in which the victims never quite recover to fight at an equal or better level. It is why some fights are not taken and why some corners throw in the towel.
Where was the initiative to protect these players’ psyche from a ‘bad beating’ that could have been much worse? He has now established inferiority, and if it dwells in the squad it can ingrain defeatism.
Maybe here is where I insert prospective replacements, but I will not be their HR Department. I would like to see the job posting for national coach. Screening should exclude egregious assault during a game, and disrespect for our history and sensibilities.
Trinidad is replete with talented leaders in the field—at home and worldwide. I do know that we need to stop the desecration, and hire people who understand what we represent. Why do we allow these people to wield this kind of power over what we value precious, yet fragile—our pride? This is by far the worst national embarrassment by score and optic I have witnessed.
Clearly, it is not just about regime change. Maybe we the people need to hone our inner game dog against bait dog leadership.