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Exclusive interview with Stephen Hart.......

Winnipeg Fury

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....only not by us, but the T&T Soca Warriors:

Exclusive Interview with Canada's head coach Stephen Hart.

Interview Conducted By: Inshan "Flex" Mohammed.

1. Since you were named interim head coach of the Canadian senior national men's team, your record shows you had 1 win (Jamaica) & 2 losses (Jamaica & Hungary). Do you feel your chances are good to keep your current position on a permanent basis?

SH: The Interim position is difficult but the players performed well and were unfortunate not to get better results out of the last two games. As for me I am not sure I am interested in the position on a full time basis. Who ever gets the job will need time to build on his ideas and player selection. Most of all he will require patience from the football public, Canada is in a rebuilding stage.

2. In 1980 you were selected to the Trinidad and Tobago national football team. How come you never became a regular on the squad?

SH: I was having a good season in the league and got selected just before the second Haiti game in the qualifications for WC 82. I was 20 at the time, so it was a gamble by the coaching staff. Unfortunately I had already made a commitment to attend University abroad. At that time the National Team also was in transition and the staff decided to build on a local squad. I did return home and played in the Premier, but as you know most players who played in that League got banned from the National Team.

3. How was football in your time growing up in T&T compared to the times we have now? What is lacking from our football in general?

SH: Football back then along with Cricket were the only sports. Local club football still had a huge following and there was also a huge North / South rivalry, that fired the appetite. Now I think there are too many Leagues. T&T Football needs one top League and a Second division with promotion and relegation. Football must find a way for the better players to compete against each other week in week out.

4. Obviously, you are the most successful T&T born coach we have today. A person like you we could surely utilize to our advantage because of the experience and knowledge you bring to the table. Tell me, if given the chance to coach T&T in any capacity (youth, senior, women) will you accept the job? Explain.

SH: Coaching is how I feed my family and I will obviously listen to any proposal that is to my benefit.

5. Do you feel you get respected from the T&T federation whenever you visit T&T? As I understand you came to T&T with the Canadian under 15 team and won the U-15 Cup 2 years ago and you were not even acknowledged by the federation. Why would they treat you like this? Did you have past run-ins with the federation? Please explain.

SH: hahaha, I am not a person that promotes myself, I think most people involved did not even know I was from T&T.

6. While you were the coach of the Canadian under 17 team you once called T&T youth and QRC player Jason Devenish to play for your team. He played once and was cut. What are your thoughts on him?

SH: Not accurate! Jason was called by another Canadian Youth Team coach. I have never met or even seen Jason Devenish play.

7. You came to T&T twice with your Canadian youth teams. You saw T&T play among other countries of course. How do you feel T&T will cope for the future? Did you spot any outstanding talents etc?

SH: Youth Team football is marked by inconsistency as players develop at different rates. Today’s talented player is seldom a future star at the younger ages. Yes I saw many players with potential, but most of CONCACAF Youth programs suffer from similar problems, as the youth players are not training consistently at their highest level. My times spent in Mexico observing their programs confirms this. They have hundreds of players in our age group training daily, we have less that 40. This is also true for USA who have a youth coaches dream in terms of their organization.

8. If you manage to stay on as Canadian head coach will you accept a friendly or two with the T&T national team?

SH: Yes it is important to play many games in CONCACAF.

9. What’s your thoughts on T&T performance at the 2006 World Cup? Give us your full view.

SH: Very organized and with a well thought out game plan. It took the coach many months to put it in place and even in the exhibition games he still looked uncertain as to his approach. The opening game was important and though at times fortunate, he got the result that gave the players confidence. Shaka was simply a wall in that game.

Game two versus England was another well thought out game plan. Trinidad actually had the best chance just on the half and it seemed England were running out of patience (which seemed to be the aim), but Crouch saved the day.

The Paraguay game plan went out the window with the own goal, and then losing Glenn. T&T style in the first two games used a lot of energy mentally and physically, so this game was always going to be difficult.

10. Do you feel Wim Rijsbergen can repeat T&T 2006 World Cup success in 2010? What do you feel should or can be done to help make this a reality?

SH: Not for me to say, but T&T will have to rebuild and with no recognized leaders this will take time.

11. Do you agree with Anton Corneal wanting to limit our SSFL players in the league in order to help the national youth teams prepare for the youth championship cups?

SH: Why not? Ask yourself what is the priority and what are the potential gains.

12. There is a rumor floating around that you were offered a position with new MLS side Toronto FC. Any truth in this?

SH: Maybe they lost my phone number.

13. Canada is always a force at women and youth level, but at senior men’s level most of the times fail. Why do you think this happens?

SH: After WCQ 1986 Canada suffered from the collapse of the NASL. Canada also failed to develop its professional domestic game, so the player pool declined. To date many talented players drop out of the game because they simply have no where to play and the reality of making a living leads them down another path.

14. As Canada's head coach. Do you get the support to carry out your job the way you would like?

SH: Difficult to answer this as I am simply only in an Interim position. I will say this, Canada needs to play far more International games than they have in the past few years.

15. Which Canadian players you think will be a force to reckon when the 2010 world cup qualifiers starts back?

SH: The force would have to be an efficient well balanced TEAM.

16. Jamaica did the ultimate, the hiring of Bora Milutinovic. Mexico got midfield genius Hugo Sanchez as their boss, and Costa Rica handed talented midfielder Hernan Medford the job to carry out the task for them. The USA may get Jurgen Klinsman. You will obviously meet them sometime down the road. Do you think you have the knowledge to out-coach these men?

SH: That is assuming I am the coach! Bora is a proven coach but he has only qualified one team China; Korea and Japan were automatic due to being host. I do not mean any disrespect by this statement. I am simply saying that his task is very different.

Klinsman had success with Germany in a WC at home. I think he will find USA and dealing with CONCACAF quite a challenge. Sanchez and Medford are theories.

17. If you were asked by the Canadian federation to hire anyone you like to work with you, who will you choose?

SH: I would rather not say.

18. If Canada does not keep you as head coach, where will you like to go from there?

SH: Hopefully, I will remain with the youth program. I think the program is on the right track and can be built upon.

19. Do you still visit T&T? If yes, where do you stay when you go?

SH: Yes I try to visit as often as I can. Most of my family are in T&T. I stay in Tobago as my parents live there.

20. Do you think Brian Haynes, Russell Latapy and Hannibal Najjar are some decent coaches T&T should consider?

SH: Yes all have excellent experience.

21. What's your thoughts of Anton Corneal being in-charge of the entire youth and women T&T teams?

SH: I don't really think about it.

22. Are you still a regular visitor to the Soca Warriors Online. If so, what's your thoughts?

SH: Its a great site. Informative, Amusing, Serious, and Entertaining.

23. Under former T&T coach Ian Porterfield, T&T sabotaged Canada in the 2001 world cup qualifiers. Were you surprised? Anything you would like to share with us on those victories?

SH: Game 1 was very interesting as I felt Canada played the better game, but two great goals gave T&T the victory, away from home which is never easy. Game 2 was another story from the opening whistle, one Canada will rather forget.

24. What was your proudest moment in your career?

SH: As a youth coach watching players progress.

25. Do you feel many good players got over-looked by the T&T national team while you were growing up as a player in T&T? Can you brief us?

SH: Definitely, T&T could have done a better job tracking its players. But

its all water under the bridge now.

26. Under the great Dom Basil Mathews. St Benedicts College was a force. Can you describe your experience under him? If he was alive, do you think T&T football would have been the same today? Anything you would like to share with us on these topics? Benedicts & Dom.....

SH: The Dom came before my time at St Benedicts but I grew up watching their team and lived near to St Benedicts ground and played my club football with many of its graduates.

The Dom created T&T first football Academy. He searched far and wide for genuine talent, gave them the best facilities and coaching. He proved what I think he set out to prove, that talent nurtured properly can achieve excellent results. Its amazing how many of those players went on to represent T&T. It is a shame the Dom was never placed in a position of influence in T&T Football.

Thank You...

Stephen Hart.

Note: On behalf of the Soca Warriors Online I just what to say Thank You to Mr. Stephen Hart for taking the time to do this interview for us. Please keep up the great work you are doing and we wish you all the best in the future... you make us proud.


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quote:Originally posted by Winnipeg Fury

3. How was football in your time growing up in T&T compared to the times we have now? What is lacking from our football in general?

SH: Football back then along with Cricket were the only sports. Local club football still had a huge following and there was also a huge North / South rivalry, that fired the appetite. Now I think there are too many Leagues. T&T Football needs one top League and a Second division with promotion and relegation. Football must find a way for the better players to compete against each other week in week out.

T&T, the 172nd biggest country in the world, has *multiple* leagues??? Who do they think they are? Ontario?

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