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Coach Michael “Mercy” Ollivierre conduct a fitness session with national footballers. (Photo: E. Glenford Prescott)

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By E. Glenford Prescott

Alarmed over the fitness level of members of the senior men’s national football team, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) has moved speedily to rectify that problem by approaching top track and field coach, Michael “Mercy’ Ollivierre to work with the team.

The team is now working out with Ollivierre three days a week in an effort to improve that area of their play.

Ollivierre said that after looking at the team in some matches he came to the conclusion that while they had good skill level they were well short of the expected level of fitness for players performing at the international level.

He said that after the first few days, it was clear that most of the players were some way below where they were supposed to be and required a bit of work.

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Coach Cornelius Huggins admitted that the players definitely were some way short of the level and said that this has resulted in them conceding goals late in matches.

“We need to be fit and it was a problem in Aruba because we were slow to the ball. Yes, some of the players were playing on such a surface for the first time but others had done so before so that was no excuse. If you are tired, you will lose concentration and this can cost you a game,” Huggins said.

In 1979, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines football team, under the guidance of fitness trainer known to all as “Ounce ah Beef” were worked into one of the fittest units across the Caribbean, which went on the defeat the likes of Trinidad, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Suriname on their way to second position in the Caribbean Football Union Cup.

One of the players who was part of that era was goalkeeper, Paul O’Garro who is among those who have pointed out the low fitness level of the current squad.

O’Garro, after viewing the team in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, pointed out that the team needed to do some running and gym work as he was unimpressed with their work rate. He said it was strange that for players who are playing so much football that they are struggling with fitness.

Speaking about his programme for the team, Ollivierre said that he began with light training and some stretches combined with some sprints and the players, though struggling, went about things in a serious manner.

In response to the early stage of the programme, players could be seen walking gingerly, while complaining of plenty of discomfort.

“I can’t even walk up steps now. Man, this is really tough,” one player said while walking in half crouch on day three.

Ollivierre said that he has moved to road running and beach training.

“They are calling me ‘Coach Wicked’, but they are enjoying it. I can’t fault them for commitment. They are fully into it,” he said.

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