Kwan we are all delighted to be welcoming you to Southgate Hockey Club as our new Men’s 1’s head coach. However this is in fact more a welcome back than a welcome- can you explain a bit about how you first came to Southgate?
I came to England because I got a scholarship to study law at London Metropolitan University and play hockey. There was a connection between Southgate and the University through a chap called Derek Hambridge who actually ran the gym at Southgate and was one of the Directors of Sport at the University. I got spotted through a friendly game against Great Britain as preparation for the 1996 Olympics on the way to the Atlanta Olympics and the guys from Southgate who played in that squad thought that I could do well at their club. There was already a Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) link at Southgate as one of the T&T National Hockey Team administrators called Garth Batiste played at Southgate and he helped arrange the opportunity with one of his friends at Southgate called David Lloyd Williams. I came over for a trial game with Southgate vs Wales and David Vincent (the coach at the time) was impressed despite losing the game 7-1 . Nevertheless David Vincent and Neil Hawgood (Head Coach) said that he wanted me to join and I was able to combine hockey and studies.
You recently scored a flick at the EHL after playing in all the games, will we be seeing you turning out for Southgate as a player?Y
Yes definitely, I would love to be playing national league again. I thoroughly enjoy playing so long as my body can survive the rigours- so fingers crossed I will be able to keep up and play again in the National league which I’m really looking forward to.
What attracted you to come back to Southgate as our Head Coach at this time?
I had a great time with Hampstead & Westminster, really enjoyed it and wouldn’t change anything at all. It just came to a point where after six years in charge, it felt like the right time for some change and I was fortunate enough that Southgate was looking for a new head coach and to take the next step. I just see it as a no brainer, what a great opportunity for a club that is in London just within the M25 with probably the best facilities in England. It is a club I could see myself being part of, it’s a great opportunity to be part of a club looking to take the next step, helping to take it to the next level and there’s a great infrastructure in place to do that.
Also, whilst it is not the most important thing I am living nearby, just twenty minutes from the club which is great. Lots of my school kids and colleagues from work are all at the club and I can see that the social side which is probably the most important thing to me being fantastic and if I can combine that with achieving great things on the pitch then that is a proper win win for me.
What are you hoping to achieve at the club over the coming years.
I think the club has fantastic facilities in a great location with great people behind the scenes. Given this I would love to see the club, and this won’t be easy- it won’t come without real effort- but I want to see the club back in the premier division of English Hockey back into the top flight. I do get this is very difficult, but it can be done, taking it step by step but with a clear eye on promotion. I think the club is ready to take things to the next level.
You have just returned from the FIH pro league in Germany with the England team where you are working as the assistant coach and you have heaps of playing experience for Trinidad and Tobago- were you tempted to go for the GB head coach job?
Not at all. I haven’t been tempted by the GB head coach job. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, I am still playing as well. I enjoy the connection with the players and more the skill development side of it. At this point in my career I am enjoying being an assistant and learning from some of the best head coaches.
What is it about club hockey that you love?
The thing I love the most about hockey are the connections and the friendships. The hockey family is very close and I think that side of it makes it very enjoyable. I also enjoy being part of a team, the memories and support makes life great.
For all our budding juniors out there- what are the key attributes you look for in elite hockey players?
For me- to be an elite hockey player it’s around the attitude and effort firstly- if there is a desire to work hard with and without the ball and that is something they enjoy doing then that is great. Then there are other things,of course, like technical ability and ability to read the game, but the most important things is that ability to enjoy and love the game both with and without the ball- getting involved in attack and defence and again enjoying both sides of the game, that will put them in a great place. Hockey is so much based around transition and the people who transition best between attack and defence are the outstanding players, at the elite level having great basic skills and doing them under pressure is all important. It may sound boring but simple things done well can be pretty exciting as well.
Have you found any formula for what makes a team successful?
Having a great culture! Players understanding how things are done at Southgate on and off the pitch. Successful teams understand that everyone is different, everyone has their own ideas and is given enough space to share those ideas without being disruptive to the culture of the team. A successful team combines an understanding of their teams DNA with the ability to consistently deliver on the pitch.
Finally when not coaching or playing can you tell us a bit more about your life away from hockey?
Life away from hockey. I’ve got two kids, 18 and 16, I’m a single dad and spend a lot of my time with them, my eldest son and myself are Man United supporters and the youngest Liverpool (tense home). When the weather is great (not that often) I will walk around the golf course with friends drinking something spicy to get me through the embarrassment. My friends and I love food especially barbecuing, this is an all year-round event. This is the one time the weather doesn’t matter as food always takes priority.
Thanks so much Kwan- we are all excited to be welcoming you back to Southgate.