“[…] In Europe and England, an under-8 right the way through to under-23 player [is developed by] a system [that] is sometimes very prescriptive in terms of: “you must be over there”, “don’t come off the touchline”, “you can only play two-touch”.
“[…] Within the Caribbean… you can be as authentic to you as you possibly can when you receive the ball: how you want to pass it, what run you want to make, do you want to dribble—which then allows a much more creative type of player…”
England Men’s National Youth Team coach Michael Johnson, a former Jamaica international and Guyana coach, discusses his presentation for the Making of a Champion Webinar Coaching Series on 6 August 2022:
Wired868: Can you tell us your position and topic for the coaching webinar?
Michael Johnson: My position is coach for the England FA [from the national under-15s through to the under-21s] and I will be talking about youth and coach development.
Wired868: What do you see as the strength of the Caribbean player that we should try to build on?
Johnson: One of the assets of being a Caribbean player is the real opportunity to be authentic in terms of how you play. So what I’m trying to say by this is in Europe and England, an under-8 right the way through to under-23 player [is developed by] a system [that] is sometimes very prescriptive in terms of: “you must be over there”, “don’t come off the touchline”, “you can only play two-touch”.
[…] Not all clubs but [a lot of] clubs are going along with that model.
Within the Caribbean, there is a lot more flair… You can be as authentic to you as you possibly can when you receive the ball: how you want to pass it, what run you want to make, do you want to dribble—which then allows a much more creative type of player. So that for me is one of the real diamonds about being a Caribbean player [and something I will speak more on].
Wired868: Can you tell us a challenge that disproportionately affects Caribbean coaches?
Johnson: I know that the fields, when I was at Jamaica and also Guyana, were not great. Goals, equipment, balls—these sort of things are essential to make sure we have best practise. We want to give the players the best experience that we can so they can be motivated.
So one of the things I will automatically say straight away is how do we engage with Fifa, around making sure that the countries in the Caribbean have the best equipment that we can get. So that allows us to have the best training sessions, ultimately then giving the players a magnificent experience.
(Editor’s Note: Johnson also spoke at length about the administrative issues regarding travel arrangements for Caribbean teams.)
Wired868: What can we look forward to from you at the Making of a Champion Coaching Webinar?
Johnson: I would like to discuss with the coaches around their experiences of Caribbean football. Is there anything that runs in alignment with what we do in England and in Europe that I could help with? But then also to hear the experience of some of the Caribbean coaches. Is there anything that we can suggest to help? We are all working together for the good of the game that we love, so for me it’s really about a joined-up approach in how we can support one another.
Editor’s Note: The Making of a Champion Webinar Coaching Series is a project by Wired868 in collaboration with The University of the West Indies/FIFA/CIES Post Graduation Diploma in Sports Management Programme.
Michael Johnson and TTFA technical director and Concacaf technical expert Anton Corneal will kick off the series, which entails a four-hour discussion on player development—loosely entitled ‘How To Make A Million Dollar Footballer’.
It is US$100 for a virtual seat while there is an early bird special before 29 July. Spots are limited. Click HERE to register.