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Kyle Lightbourne open to coaching return

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Former Bermuda coach Kyle Lightbourne (File photograph)

After a year away from the game, former national football coach Kyle Lightbourne has revealed that he is open to a return to management.

Lightbourne and the Bermuda Football Association amicably parted ways last May at the end of the former’s contract, with Canadian Michael Findlay assuming the lead role.

However, with batteries seemingly recharged and his golf game at an impressive 2.8 index (four handicap) Lightbourne, who guided Bermuda to an historic debut at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2019, is prepared for a new challenge within football, but only if he believes the circumstances to be suitable.

“I’ve actually enjoyed the break from football,” said Lightbourne, who during a legendary playing career donned the Bermuda jersey 40 times, scoring 16 goals, and played professionally in England for Scarborough, Walsall, Coventry City, Fulham, Stoke City, Swindon Town, Cardiff City, Macclesfield Town and Hull City.

“I’ve been able to concentrate on playing golf and being able to travel, things that I wouldn’t ordinarily have been able to do on a regular basis.

“I’ve just been working on myself really because I’ve been in football all my life and it was much-needed rest.”

Lightbourne’s history of coaching success has not only come at national level, the PHC-reared talent having shepherded both his hometown club and Robin Hood to league and FA Cup doubles.

He has also formerly held the reins at professional outfit Bermuda Hogges, who competed in the  USL Premier Development League, and just missed out on a job with Walsall.

“Am I going to come back into football? It’s a possibility, but it would have to be the right sort of challenge for myself and for whoever wants to take me on as a coach,” Lightbourne said.

Back to the drawing board: Kyle Lightbourne, right, and assistant Scott Morton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“And I’m not just speaking just in Bermuda terms, I’m speaking wider than Bermuda.

“I think I’ve built a good resume for myself as a coach in Bermuda, taking us from pretty much the wilderness to the highest level within our region.

“And while not being overly successful in terms of the amount of wins, Bermuda did gain enormous respectability based on our performances against much higher-rated countries and the style of play that we developed.

“Things did get frustrating towards the end, considering so many things that we had to deal with, Covid being a major downer for everybody in the region. For any small nation, Covid killed you.”

Etched firmly in the mind of Lightbourne were a pair of narrow 2-1 defeats to Central American powerhouse nations Mexico and Costa Rica in 2019. The latter defeat eliminated the Island from progressing at the Gold Cup, while the former was a Concacaf Nations League loss.

“We were a minute away from getting back to the Gold Cup,” said Lightbourne. “Losing 2-1 to Mexico was a big moment for us and an outstanding performance.

“Me, as a coach, what I take from my experience is how the other coaches felt when they played against Bermuda.

“I had the coach from Mexico, after that game, come and shake my hand and say to me, ‘We got away with it,’ and the same thing with Costa Rica.

“Those were little strides we made as a nation and me as a coach, coaching against people that are full-time in that position and charged with leading countries that have been to the World Cup finals.”

Lightbourne well understands the low ceiling and limited margin for error that exists for Bermuda as a small country, with a comparatively limited talent base numbers-wise and financial resources.

He see’s the current team being in urgent need of solidifying its defence, so that it can better manage high-pressure tactics, as well having to find a prime replacement for Nahki Wells up front.

“You always have to restock and recycle players at all times,” Lightbourne said. “We’re in a transitional period right now and our biggest problem is that we need defenders.

“They need solid centre-backs who can handle play at that level. We’re still struggling to find that. We have potential, but potential is just potential until you show that you can make it by performing at that level.

“I believe we will find those players, but we may have to take a step back before we can go forward again, which is the way it often is for a country the size of us.”

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Published April 12, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 13, 2024 at 8:04 am)

Kyle Lightbourne open to coaching return

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