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PHC youth coach Eddy Dowling still in love with game

Eddy Dowling with the Under-7 PHC team who were champions at the Kappa Classic

Eddy Dowling is a football ‘lifer’, with PHC having been his chosen home for the better part of four decades as a player, coach and mentor.

From his early days as as precocious youngster with elite talent, to several years as an under-sized yet aggressive full back on PHC’s history-making 1999-2000 senior outfit that captured the Premier Division a year after being promoted from the First Division, Dowling has run the football gamut as a player.

“I played for PHC, starting with the minors and finishing with the senior team,” explained Dowling, who was equally capable in defence and attack.

“My last achievement was winning the league as part of the history making team of the 1999-2000 season.”

Still, it can be justifiably argued that his accomplishments as a player pale in comparison to that which he does now as a Zebras youth coach, which had him posted at the National Sports Centre’s North Field last weekend as he led his young brigade to the boys’ under-7 title at the Kappa Classic.

Dowling has been a fixture on the sidelines at the Kappa event for more than 20 years moulding, encouraging and nurturing the Warwick club’s young talent, while demanding their best at the island’s premier youth football competition.

And even as winning matches and trophies stand prominent on the list of Dowling’s priorities, more important is the positive growth and development as human beings he inspires among his charges, for his is a labour of love.

“I’ve been coaching for 20 plus years, so I’ve been coming here to the Kappa Classic for over 20 years,” said Dowling, while taking a break with his squad in preparation for their semi-final duel against Devonshire Colts.

“I coach for the love of the game and for the love of young people. I want to give back based on what I was given when I was coming up

“If we can make for a better tomorrow and better players then that will make my life a lot easier as I get older.”

What never seems to get old for Dowling is the end-of-season event, which this year featured more than 100 teams, but just six games were of supreme importance to Dowling, as that number would assure a final appearance.

“Well, PHC is involved in the capital classic and it’s not just me, but we have a cadre of coaches, so as long as PHC is involved I’m going to stay involved,” said Dowling, who enjoys the competitive aspect of the Kappa Classic.

“It’s the only competitive tournament we have on the island. The BFA started a competitive tournament last season, but this is the major competitive tournament where you learn both sides of the fence.

“Because it’s competitive we don’t play the same way as during the regular season, so the mindset changes and we play more direct.

“Where normally we might play more attractive football, this tournament is about winning so I prepare my young men to be able to handle both sides of the fence, being direct as well as being creative.”

Asked how he is able to convey differing tactics to 7-year-olds, Dowling noted how an intimate understanding of each player’s personality, strengths and weakness is key.

“Once you understand them as a coach you are able to relate and get them to understand. That’s our responsibility as coaches, to be able to convey and teach,” he said.

“They’re all very excited today. We lost our one game yesterday and we are back to redeem ourselves today and make amends for that one loss.”

And make amends they did, recording victories over Somerset and Devonshire Colts in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively, followed by a 2-0 win in the final against LB Football Academy.

Nevertheless, while Dowling and the rest of the coaches concern themselves with Xs and Os during the breaks in action, the players appeared just as happy enjoying the company of each other at the festival.

“They enjoy the social aspect with each other,” said Dowling. “Not really all of the fans that are here, because they can get a bit scary, but they just enjoy being around each other and having fun. That's what's most important.”

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Published April 18, 2023 at 7:39 am (Updated April 18, 2023 at 7:39 am)

PHC youth coach Eddy Dowling still in love with game

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