Crevoisier: Poor pitches are holding Bermuda back
Jacques Crevoisier believes the key to raising the standard of Bermudian football is threefold: improving facilities, extending the domestic season and reversing the trend of players dropping out of the game at 16.
Crevoisier has been visiting Bermuda to deliver coaching courses since 2006 through four organisations — the Bermuda Football Foundation, the Bermuda Football Association, the ABC Football School and now the Bermuda Football Coaches Association.
The former Liverpool assistant coach says he has witnessed significant advances during that period but insists there must be solutions found to three major problems before the local game can realise its full potential.
“When we train at the National Stadium it's fantastic, good quality, no problem,” said the 70-year-old Frenchman.
“But I was in St David's for a match [at Lord's between Boulevard and PHC Zebras] at the weekend and the grass was not even cut.
“How can Bermuda not have good pitches? I've been coming here for 12 years and that hasn't changed. I'm absolutely gutted to see that. For me it's not acceptable. It means people don't care. In 12 years will it be the same?”
Crevoisier, who ran a C licence equivalent course for 40 local coaches at the National Stadium last week, believes artificial surfaces could be the answer to Bermuda's substandard pitches.
“Perhaps the solution is to do what BAA did with artificial turf. You can be 12 hours a day on the pitch. It can be used by the schools during the day and the clubs at night.
“Obviously it comes down to money and that's become more difficult after the financial crisis in 2008. What you have to do is optimise the good pitches that Bermuda does have. A third artificial pitch would be a good thing.”
Crevoisier, who has a degree in sports psychology, feels the domestic season, which runs from September to April, is far too short and that players should be active for at least ten months a year. He did, however, praise Kenny Thompson and Andrew Bascome for setting up the Youth Football Super League Bermuda, for players aged 9 to 15, to at least help remedy that issue at the junior level.
“Everywhere in the world footballers are ten months active,” Crevoisier said. “Here we have the old British model: the cricket and football club.
“I've nothing against cricket, but it means the footballer is playing for just six months. You will not beat those Caribbean countries who are training for nine or ten months a year. You can just dream!
“You cannot stick with the situation between the cricket and football clubs for the next 100 years. Don't talk about targets if you don't sort out the length of the season and the standard of facilities.”
The third most pressing concern facing Bermudian football, according to Crevoisier, is the amount of players dropping out of the game at 16.
“Everything is very organised, there is good competition until under-16,” said Crevoisier, who was behind the recent visit of Gérard Houllier, the former Liverpool manager.
“But what then happens to the kids who loves football at 16 — there is no team, no league. That's not acceptable.”
Crevoisier's concerns are shared by Andrew Bascome, the former Bermuda coach, who is now a C licence evaluator.
“One of my questions to Mr Houllier was about our drop-off rate after the under-16s,” Bascome said. “It turns out what we're doing with the boys at ten to 15, we should be doing with them when they get to 16.
“That's becoming a frustration for the players because there's so much tactics involved and they don't have the technical ability to carry it out.
“From 13 to 15, it's competition, it's trophies and it's points, so the coaching is more severe. The players are doing their best to carry out their responsibilities and the frustration is coming because we're not equipping them with the technical skills.”
Bermuda's rich football culture and natural understanding of the game is the envy of many larger countries, such the United States and China, Crevoisier said.
“I come here as it's a lovely place; it has nice, friendly people, but most importantly the people are crazy about football,” he said. “Bermuda's football culture is very important. It has a passion and desire for the game as it's influenced by the English culture. You must use that because the [population] handicap can be reduced by the fact you have a good football culture. It's very positive.”