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Gilbert prepared for ‘very smart’ JPL coaches

Published:Saturday | April 20, 2024 | 12:10 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer

Arnett Gardens coach Xavier Gilbert
Arnett Gardens coach Xavier Gilbert

AT THE start of the season, there was much hubbub when Xavier Gilbert was appointed coach of Arnett Gardens, with many arguing that the long-time women’s coach was not experienced enough at the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) level to manage a top club like Arnett.

However, by the end of the first round, Gilbert had quieted his critics. Arnett sat fifth in the table, but only four points adrift of the leaders, with seven wins and three draws from 13 matches.

Now the senior national women’s coach is in his first JPL playoffs, and is the least experienced of the coaches at this level.

Still, Gilbert believes his experiences as a coach has prepared him for moments like this.

“The reality is I am an experienced coach myself. Coaching football and being in certain situations and circumstances myself, albeit not at the men’s Premier League level but at schoolboy, schoolgirl, club and international women. So I have been in situations and circumstances like these,” he said.

“Every level it is different, but it is important to have a staff that supports you, so you can put things in place before, during and after the game, and just manage each period as best as possible.”

He noted that he will have to match wits against some of the league’s most astute coaches to get to the title, and said that he has prepared his team as best as he can for any scenario that may arise.

“You have very smart coaches in the league. Some will come out expansive and others will come out cautious.

“Their strategies are different. Some may not allow you to play that free-flowing football, others will.

“So you have teams that will do things differently and it is for us to realise, acknowledge and understand what the team is doing and find a way to do what we can do best,” he reasoned.

“This will come down to decision-making and that is why we prepare for different situations and scenarios.

“The players know what to do when these things happen, and it is just for them to go out and execute.”

To win the JPL title in his first season would be an incredible achievement for Gilbert, who insists his main motivation is to win it for the community.

“Any of the teams in the top six can go all the way, including Arnett Gardens. But it would really be a tremendous feat to win the league,” he said.

“The community needs it and the fans supporting us over the years. So we just want to put on a good show and do the best we can, and hope that the best will be good enough to win the title.”