LEVI BRAITHWAITE – For The Love Of The Game
“Winning Is The Passion. Everyone Wants To Win But You Must Lose Sometimes. You Lose To See Where You’re Going Wrong; You Get To Correct The Mistake Going Forward…”
“You’re always coaching and correcting the guys, you should follow up coaching so here I am.” Those were the encouraging words of a friend of Levi Braithwaite at the start of what is now a 12-year football career in coaching.
Braithwaite, the Head Coach of Grove Hi-Tech FC for seven years, is relaxed after his team placed second in the just-concluded GFF Super 16 Yearend Classic held at the National Track and Field Centre, Leonora. The team was defeated in the finals by the GDF FC by a 2 – 0 margin.
The D Licensed certified coach said while he intended to win, he was happy for the experience and pleased with his team’s performance: “It was a great experience for me having defeated Western Tigers FC, Guyana Police Force FC and Fruta Conquerors FC, which are good elite squads. The GDF team is the number one team in the country so I know I did well.” Grove Hi Tech was considered the underdog in the tournament that featured the elite clubs, five of the country’s best non-elite clubs and an Indigenous All-stars team.
However, coach Levi’s involvement in the sport began as a footballer, having played as a teenager: “Football is the passion. I started around 15 years of age. I used to play with the Grove Hi-Tech club where I played for about five to seven years before I moved to Pele FC then I returned.”
Braithwaite is also a Youth Development coach in the East Bank Demerara GFF-Scotiabank GFF Academy Training Centre (ATC) where he works with the Grassroots and with the U13, U15 and U17 teams respectively. In fact, he is a very successful youth coach: “My U17 won all of their tournaments, including the U17 East Bank Demerara League. They won each and every one of the games in the GFF-NAMILCO Thunderbolt Flour Power National U17 tournament. Additionally, his club produced some players who once featured in the national U15/U17 teams including Usher Jones, Akel Forde and Kevin Padmore.
While he enjoys working with the youth teams, he has had a favourable 2017 with the senior team: “We played in two major tournaments – the Turbo KO football competition and the GFF Super 16 Yearend Classic. In the Turbo KO football, we came out fourth, defeated by the Police FC in the semi-finals then lost to Pouderoyen FC in the third-place playoff by a 1 – 0 margin.” It was a bit of a sweet revenge, though, when the team knocked out the Police FC in the GFF Super 16 Classic by a 2 – 1 margin.
In the GFF Super 16 Classic, the team enjoyed the benefit of two guest players – Curtez Kellman and Kelsey Benjamin – by virtue of their non-elite status. “It was positive addition to my team,” said Braithwaite. “They worked well, the guys knitted well like they were part of the team for a long time. Most of the guys in the squad knew them before so they cooperated and worked together.”
Braithwaite’s philosophy as a coach is simple: team work, discipline, hard work and win easily. Towards this end, training is emphasized: “We train four times a week, Monday to Thursday, from about 16:30hrs – 18:30hrs. The U17 starts at about 15:45hrs to approximately 16:30hrs. At the Academy, we also have a girl’s session.”
Like many clubs, his role extends beyond that of the Head Coach: “I’m like a father to the players; they tell me anything, I speak anything with them, correct their mistakes, tell them what they need to do and they come and relate to me when things go wrong. I’m here to advise at all times.”
The sky is the limit when it comes to the future, according to Braithwaite: “My dream going forward is to work with the national squad and, if possible, migrate and work with overseas-based club. Chelsea is my club so I can go there.”
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