Sunday, 31 May 2009

Winston Bee Phillips, talks Women Soccer in Trinidad

Coaching girls is exciting, interesting but it’s
“A whole new ball game”

Winston “Bee” Phillips is one of the best defenders this country has ever known and perhaps the only long throw specialist in the history of local football.
‘Bee” is a member of the treasured team that failed to make it to the 1974 World Cup Finals in Germany , an ex army Corporal ,a panman and longstanding Head Coach of the Harvard Football Club . But people say that the no nonsense left back who’s been coaching since 1968, has gone soft at the age of 62 years.
And that’s only because of his pioneering efforts in the field of women football, where Phillips confessed he has been making startling discoveries since he started training young women just a couple of years ago concurrent with inte4rnatiopnal trends as women’s football is now a lucrative venture.
To date the man with 95 international caps when he played against teams from many of the top football countries and a startling First Division career with the Defence Force for twelve years between 1964 and 1978 has created an exciting team out of a group of St Joseph Convent girls and is already feeding good players to the National Women’s team.
In addition, Phillips has started the Winston Bee Phillips Women’s Clinic where he trains young girls, twice weekly, at King George V Park.
“It is really exciting; listening and learning and doing things I have never done before in football,” the hardworking coach and father of three said about his stint in teaching the games to young ladies.
There are new things I bounce up everyday.. and new problems, too, “ he added graciously while noting that it’s literally a whole new ball game.
But Phillips and his assistant Carlyle Harris have worked it out to a science as they have spent hours training and analyzing the way girls play knowing that they cannot take many things for granted as they would with boys.
“It is really changing the whole person; you have to teach that person how to walk with the width of the shoulder although the disadvantage is that I spend a couple of hours, two days a week with them and they spend the rest of the time carrying their bodies like they are accustomed to, “ he added with a sigh.
“This change for me started just last year when I got word that St Joseph Convent needed a football coach.
“At the time I was still skeptical about women’s football and that stemmed from an incident quite a few years ago when I was invited to coach a team in the Queen’s Park Savannah.
“That was my first and only experience a with women’s football and at that time, what I found was a situation in which there was one coach to each girl, which looked to me as if it was a man/woman situation, “Phillips explained in an exclusive tell all interview with Mirror Weekend.
“I left when I realized that, because I am serious about football.
“The first year that I had responsibility for them they were badly beaten in the Intercol Finals by Malick Secondary but the way they played made me tell the principal that we were going to beat them.
“It was the only assurance that I could give and that was based on what I saw when they played in that final ; the girls reminded me of long ago when we used to play a die hard game and any time that you get players like that it is hard to beat them,.
“As I promised we delivered and have been beating Malick Secondary in the past two years. The ratings always showed Malick on top, followed by Providence Girls College and St Joseph Convent.
“We have already conquered Malick, all we have to do get the better of Providence.
“The Under 15 Girls won the Knock Out competition in 2005 followed by both the league and knock out titles in 2006.
“The Under 19 girls played up to second round in the Intercol knock out and have been playing at that level for the past two to three years, “Phillips stated.
The selectors have taken six girls from St Joseph’s team to play with the national team and among them Bianca Walker made the starting line up.
Other than that, together with Carlyle Harris, Phillips started the girls coaching clinic at the Harvard Club where previously the few girls trained with the boys with the different age groups each Sunday morning in the Harvard Soccer Clinic that runs from July to December.
“For me it is a golden opportunity to coach girls, to see how they are operating.
‘Truly, I am tired of telling the boys the same thing over and over, ‘ Phillips explained, giving some insight into how seriously he take son this challenge from the fairer sex.
‘ The difference with the girls is that I can see that they are trying and it’s just for them to understand that lots of practice and training is what it is all about.
“ On top of that there are many more things to sort out before we go on on to teach them about passing and shooting.
“Girls are not natural footballers; for example, their legs are closed when they are walking. I have observed they have no stride, no balance and do not use their hands,” Phillips continued.
“What do you all do with hands? It’s just hanging there, “he added with a laugh.
‘But truly, how you carry your body everyday is how you will be when you start to run and these are the very fundamental things that we have to teach the girls.
To further clarify his point, Phillips explained: “When they are on one foot in the game the boys put up their hands automatically to get that balance.
“Girls do not usually do that and then they fall down.
“I see this happening and pay particular attention to every single person who comes through the school; look at what they are doing with feet and hands.
“One of the first things that we have to teach them is how to use their hands to get that balance; it’s not just coaching something and they will get the hang of it.
“In addition to teaching the football skills we have to keep working on that balance all the time until it comes instinctively,” Phillips noted.
“I know it requires a lot of patience and that I am doing something good by helping my footballers with something that nobody else will check for.
“Most coaches look at them as a male and many girls just pass through the system,” he observed.
‘ There are many other aspects to the game like passing the ball with the inside of the foot which is one of the most uncomfortable positions with the body and for them to get the balance and do that as well, could be a difficult thing.
“ All girls that I have coached had that problem of changing direction while on the move in a game, something which comes naturally to boys,
“Harris and I spent hours sitting and talking and know that we are seeing things that the other coaches do not see because they are not accustomed to treating girls as a specialty.
“As I said it is like changing the whole person; you have to teach that person how to walk with the width of the shoulder,” Phillips stressed.
“The clear disadvantage is that I spend a couple of hours for two days a week with them and they spend the rest of the time carrying their bodies like they are accustomed to.
“We also have to teach girls how to sprint which is very difficult for some of them.
“There are one or two tomboys who will not need that much work and they will be good.
“As far as aggression is concerned it is something that has to be introduced since I have to explain that when you tackle someone on the ground and you win the ball, that’s an accomplishment; that applying pressure on an opposing player win help you win the ball.”
“But it’s a straight case of me having to keep on talking over and again without losing patience,” the strict disciplinarian acknowledged.
“Still, I cannot talk rough to the girls and many people have been telling me that I get soft. Where I would usually put pressure on the men, I spend more time explaining to the girls,” Phillips stated with fatherly concern.
‘Even though what I have explained may sound like a challenge the strength of the girls is that they listen and will get there much faster than the boys, man who has been Harvard ‘s head coach for 15 years stated.
“Coach,” as he is fondly referred to buy his charges, is slowly building a clientele for The Winston Bee Phillips Women’s Clinic because his good reputation precedes him.
The aim as he has often stated is to teach the girls from scratch; the basics of the game, techniques and principles and team work after which he will form a team to pay in competition.
While it is important that individuals improve I feel good seeing them play and strengthen their teams, “
“ This is like the ultimate team sport and they must understand what a team is about so I emphasize team work , discuss what is each person’s purpose in the team and send home the message that the team is not about the best player but having the best players in every position,” Phillips mused.
“I also spend time explaining the team selection because I think if players understand that concept they will go out there and easily become part of any team.
“That means you are not just preparing for your purpose in a small competition at home; there are bigger things at stake for women in football,” Phillips explained.
“With children and young people you have to teach them everything and do not assume they know anything.
“I learnt a lot on my own so I show them because if we do not show them then how will they know? “he asked incredulously.
After the challenge of teaching women how to use their bodies differently, changing their sensibilities and nurturing controlled aggression, there are still more to ponder on, in the making a good female footballer.
Overall Phillips identified fitness as the most challenging part of training women,
‘ A most fitting example,” he recalled, “ was the first game that the St Joseph’s Convent team played against Malick Secondary when for the first time ever in football I saw nine players falling down on the ground due to exertion, cramps and dehydration. To make matters worse we suffered a 8-0 defeat at the hands of Malick.
“The problem, I later realized, was how to find a way to get them fit. All I have is two days a week it is very difficult to get them fit for competition when in July and August just before the start of the school’s competitive football season they are missing in action.
‘ With St Joseph, as with most prestige schools the children can afford to fly out of the country for most of the summer vacation and who will bother with soccer practice when they are in a big city or something like that.
“But I know that the folks from Malick are hardly going anywhere so they can continue to train.
“In a situation like this where there is limited time to train, the coaching comes like a kind of short cut to the game,” Phillips confessed.
“ I even experimented with the traditional school game that we were playing as boys, Rescue, and related it to football making it part of the routine.
“Harris and I started using it to see how it and took some parts of it to assist in the physical deficiencies liking moving in one direction and then stopping suddenly as part of the dribbling tactics,” he further explained.
“Overall I know that we are better coaches for women because of the amount of research we have done in our bid for perfection.
‘We just keep digging and digging for answers because a simple thing like a low drive, which you can teach to a young man you have to understand that girls cannot do it easily.
“Each player is unique and apart from the generalizations that I have made they have their own minor problems which they have to adjust.
“At St Joseph convent I train the girls for competition while here at my Clinic I concentrate on teaching the basics with which they will go forward.
“Reading the game is difficult for anybody but we have to teach them to keep an eye on what is happening around them and still control the ball.
“We tried all different ways; I make them freeze in position and look around, sometimes we use flash cards.
“I cannot remember seeing anybody paying that attention to detail and teaching that need to be alert when playing and reading the game to make the correct pass. Still, I continue to coach them in that way,” he said.
As you would expect heading the ball is like a nightmare with girls because once it is past their eye level they tend to flinch.
“Therefore teaching the chest trap is out of the question for girls until they get top a much higher stage of competition, as women,” he notes, “have a problem with the ball in the air ;once they get one lash they wont try it again, ‘ he said shying away from making reference to women’s breast being a clear and present hindrance which the boys do not have to worry about.
Still, Phillips summed it up diplomatically:” I have seen girls in competition jump up and head the ball if push come to squeeze and all that comes in with time and a loss of fear.
“As for injuries and hard knocks the girls are like babies. I have seen girls falling like a ripe breadfruit which means that we also have to teach them to how to break a fall.
“I always find myself insisting that if you are not injured you must get up from off the ground.
“My strict rule is that nobody is lying down unless you are injured.
“Finally I nurture the aggression but also teach them that they must be controlled; you cannot be ignorant because this beautiful game is still a contact sport.
“You can hit the opponent but be able to take a bounce and a kick once it’s a legal challenge, “ Phillips said, ending the first oart of an extensive interview in which we spoke about football, tracing his involvement from the sixties.