B’ball coach with lots of passion
For Francis Williams, basketball has been a part of his life from the time he was a little lad when his father was a referee and carried him to games.
The 45-year-old has spent more than 30 years associated with Lumber Company Lakers team, first as a player, then as coach for the last 18 years. Williams, who also played for the junior and senior national teams, said that he got into coaching as a natural progression as he wanted to give something back to the game.
When he stopped playing for the Husbands, St James-based Lakers in 1994, by the next year he had assumed the role of coach. Williams said the quick transition was a little frustrating, initially. “Obviously you wished the players you had to be dealing with would have at least been a bit more coachable like you felt you were as a player, so there were certain things you would expect of them because it came as second nature to you as a player,”?he said. “Now it is easier relating to the different players, different styles and different attitudes.”
From a team perspective, Williams said Lakers struggled early on but have been getting successes recently and it has become a lot easier now to build a culture that would promote a winning attitude.
The team have been dominant in men’s basketball for the past decade, winning the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Premier League title in 2007, 2008, 2011 and this year.
What he sees in the team’s future is consistent to what he sees in life as ups and downs.
“Sports and life itself is all cycles; right now there is some success that we have been reaping but the thing
now is to manage and control the flow so we can hold on to success a little bit longer,”?he said. “This will mean integrating some more of the youngsters and just trying to keep the culture fresh for those who are already there that they will still want to put out as they are accustomed.”
As a coach, he plays some part in the success and Williams said that through the years he had tried to create a player-friendly system. As a club they have been selective of who they bring into the club to ensure they fit the culture.
“There is a type of player that we know to be successful, a player who is basketball intelligent, who gets along with the teammates, deeply talented and willing to sacrifice their individual game to help the team,”?he said.
Preparation is also a hallmark of a Williams-led team. The basketball season runs from February to August but for Williams his preparations begin from October in terms of logistics with practice coming a few months later.
“It is easier now because we have some players who have been there for several years so when practice resumes it is easy to get back in the saddle, for me it is familiarity,” he said.
The basketball coach has been involved in administration at local, regional and international level holding posts of vice-president of the Caribbean Basketball Federation among others. He said Barbados basketball was at the bottom end of the cycle. There are challenges within the game, namely lack of facilities, cash and expertise.
“How well we can deal with them will determine how far the game goes,”?he said. “Ideally if I had to pick one thing that can turn the game around is the level of expertise at all levels of the game – players, referees if you can get those up to scratch, those more than anything can turn the game around.”
Williams said his job at Simpson Motors took up most of his day so he had not ventured into many other areas. “I try not bite off more than I can chew and because of how intense and how involved I am in the game.”
He said his coaching career was probably coming to an end because basketball was a year-long thing and intense. He added that he was feeling the energy slipping away in recent years and he might seek another avenue that will soak up his basketball passion.
He remains very interested in the development of Husbands where he grew up and still resides.
His wish is that through the club he could make a bigger impact on the community but that is difficult without a pavilion in the Husbands area.
“If we had proper facilities, it could be a centre for more of the younger people to come and learn the game,” Williams said.