After coaching at Princeton camps during the summer of 2004 I was invited to apply for the 'Foreign Coach' position in Trinidad and Tobago. The combined roles of coaching the national teams, coach education and building a professional infra-structure for the general development of the sport was highly appealing. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to take on a role that encompassed everything I was interested in associated with coaching.
A move from the vibrant US – with single site facilities providing more courts to members than Trinidad could offer on a national scale – was mired in risk. Over the years facilities had dwindled as programmes and events got shelved and development ground to a halt. There was plenty of talk about funding programmes and building facilities – a home – for the Trinindad and Tobago Association (TTSA). TTSA felt a home was the key to development.
When I arrived in Trinidad you could count the number of active programmes on one hand. Apart from a couple of junior events which included the Caribbean Championships (CASA) there was nothing to boost participation. The situation for seniors was dire – in fact they hadn’t had a national event for two years.
Despite this it was an exciting time for Trinidad – we were hosting the CASA Junior Championships during my first summer. With just 11 players to choose from for the boys’ and girls’ teams (each fielding five players) my work was an uphill struggle from the start. Six months later the hard work by all – TTSA board, players, volunteers, etc. – paid off and we ended a 14 year medal drought. Top of the hit parade were our girls, who won the team championship in heart-stopping fashion.
Given these successes, I was asked to extend my contract as talk switched to the Commonwealth Games with rumours that the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) may provide funding. The games were to be held in Melbourne during the following year and, since squash had not been represented at these games since 1998 in Manchester, participation became an exciting prospect for anyone aspiring to levels beyond the Caribbean shores. The TTOC rumours turned out to be true, so after a few months break due to a lack of funding I returned to Trinidad.