Cavalier - The Young and the Relentless
Cavalier SC have been the envy of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) this season, with the Rudolph Speid-coached young guns captivating local football fans with some confident and delightful displays of late. But what has been amazing, is the ease at which Speid has integrated these young, exciting players.
Until the ‘90s, schoolboys excelling for Premier League teams was common. But, since then, most top schoolboys have struggled to acclimatise to the league. However, at Cavalier a formula was developed and it has so far worked with immense results.
“When I was in corporate, my job was to solve problems, and if something is not working, you find the best way how to do it. We really started in our youth system. We are allowed 30 players to enter under-13, under-15, under-1,7 and under-20. So if we are playing under-13, out of the 30 registered players, 14 must be able to play the following year.
“Under-15 we did the same thing, so we end up having ready-made teams for the following year and after that we brought it to the senior team and we started having three players (in senior team) who can play under-20. So we just bring it (policy) right through our system, but it really originated in the youth structure,” he explained.
The first thing that they did was to put the best coaches in charge of the youngsters, who were encouraged to attend senior team training.
“A lot of clubs make their best coaches coach the senior team. Our best coaches coach the younger players, we also encourage the youngsters to come to senior team training and once we realise that they can manage (the training), we don’t hesitate putting them in the big team,” he said.
Young players playing in an older age groups tend to learn faster, plus Cavalier play the same system right through from under-13 to the senior team, which makes it easier to make the transition.
Many clubs have tried this method and failed. Harbour View have successfully helped youngsters make the transition over the years, but of late they have suffered from a talent drain after selling and sending most of their best talents on scholarships.
However, Speid does not fear relegation because he says Jamaica is filled with young talents that are just waiting for proper development.
“Jamaica is not short on talent, we just have to increase our scouting system, and if we have money we can develop players. If we sell our top players, we can help ourselves and more players coming through.
So it’s a win-win for us. Jamaica not short of talent, we can replace what we sell. We don’t fear being relegated,” he stated.