“Enthusiasm Is Key For The Digicel Academy,” Says Sunderland Academy Coach, Carlton Fairweather

Following several weeks of rigorous training in the Digicel Kick Start Clinics, the eagerly anticipated Digicel Academy is set to kick off next week hosting the “crème de la crème” of the region’s aspiring young footballers. Sunderland AFC’s Academy of Light coach, Carlton Fairweather, spoke exclusively to www.digicelfootball.com about his coaching career and the key attributes he will be looking to bring out in the young footballers at the Academy.

“When I was a player, coaching was one of these things that I always wanted to do. I love training – and even when I was a footballer, I was a great trainer and I loved the organisation of it. On top of that I had great coaches like Arsenal and England manager, Don Howe, who I trained under at Wimbledon. Also, I worked with Terry Burton and Dave Bassett who were both great coaches.”

You played Premier League football – how did you find the transition to coaching?

“The transition was pretty good. While I was still playing professional football, I got all my coaching badges and as the years went on I did more and more coaching so when I retired it was almost like the inevitable thing to do – the obvious next step. Even after I finished playing in England, I went to Hong Kong and America where I was coaching and playing – making the transition a natural progression for me.

“And believe it or not, coaching is sometimes better than playing. I love football, but with coaching I get to engage in something I love without the pressure of going out there – and I get to see players develop, which is why I love it.”

Any major superstitions before a match?

[He laughs] “No, none at all to be honest. I know players who have various superstitions, like coming out last or putting things down their shin pads – but not for me.”

In terms of training, what will you be looking for in the boys selected to go through to the Academy?

“The number one thing I’ll be looking for is enthusiasm. You know, we talk about it all the time because enthusiasm is something that you can’t teach – the players have to come armed with it already. Attitude is also very important – and once you have those ingredients, you look at the technical ability. Having had the experience of coaching in the Caribbean before, I will be looking for enthusiasm – it’s such a major factor.

“When it comes to making a career out of football, technical ability is necessary, as is a good attitude and pace. If you look at the modern game, pace is certainly key, along with a good understanding of the game.”

What advice do you have for young Caribbean footballers who have dreams of making it big?

“Work hard! The Digicel Academy is an opportunity to show what you can do. Life is about experience – so take full advantage of the experiences in your lifetime as you never know where they might take you. And always look to improve yourself.”
The Digicel Academy is a week-long elite training camp which takes place in Trinidad from November 1st to 7th under the leadership of top Barclays Premier League coaches, Kevin Ball and Carlton Fairweather, from the Sunderland Academy, assisted by John Barnes. The Digicel Academy will also host a ‘coach the coaches’ seminar in which coaches from across the region will get expert training from Sunderland AFC’s finest teachers.