Farley calling shots as coach
GOLD COAST – Trevor Farley is here in Australia, attending his fifth Commonwealth Games. But the veteran Barbadian table tennis player has a new role at Gold Coast 2018.
“The first two I was just a player,” Farley tells NATIONSPORT, “and the last two, player/coach. Now, it’s only coach.”
Crowned Caribbean men’s singles champion back in 2002, Farley is still a feared player. However, he is giving back to the sport through the Trevor Orlando Farley Table Tennis Academy (TOFL), and sat out the Commonwealth Games competitions in order to facilitate his passion for development.
“There are some youngsters who are playing really good. They needed the experience, and me being on the team would have taken away at least one spot. That’s what prompted me to come as coach.”
Seventeen-year-old Marcus Smith is the baby on the Barbados men’s team. Also in Gold Coast on national duty are 2017 Caribbean junior champion Tyrese Knight, 18, 21-year-old Kristian Doughty, and the experienced Mark Dowell. At 35, Dowell is the old man on the team.
“For three of them,” Farley notes, “this is the first Commonwealth Games. Mark is the only one who has been to a few Commonwealths before. I believe that the experience should bring along the youth. Throwing an all-youth team in the pool would have been a crazy move – no one to guide them. And they’re fresh blood. The sharks always take to fresh blood.”
There was a baptism of fire for Barbados, on Thursday. Drawn against a powerful Singapore unit in Group 3, the Caribbean team got a 3-0 whipping. Barbados were far more competitive against Mauritius, on Friday. There were impressive singles wins for Knight and Dowell. But in the decider, Smith lost, handing Mauritius a 3-2 victory and a berth in the knockout phase. The teenager, however, had the satisfaction of taking a game off the difficult Brian Chan Yook Fo.
“It’s a learning process,” says Farley, shortly after witnessing his team’s elimination from the men’s team event, “and I think I’m pretty satisfied. I think they could have done more, but it’s the lack of experience. It’s their first time at this high level, so nerves and fear would have played a part. But they will grow from strength to strength.”
Farley is doing his part to ensure there is meaningful growth for the sport he loves.
“Coaching is my full-time job. I host my training at the National Table Tennis Centre in Bridgetown. It’s central, so everybody can get there. I’m looking for a home for my academy, but it’s hard because the money is not there. I have a piece of land I’m trying to develop into something, but what I want is world class, so it will take a good few investors to come on board.
“Maybe that will happen in the near future,” the coach continues, “when some of my TOFL Academy players become champions, and people see it’s a good thing that’s going on.”
While Farley is shaping the future of Barbados table tennis at his academy, he understands that more is required for the sport to scale new heights.
“I would like to see my players in programmes. Knight, for example, came from my academy, and is now in Sweden doing some training. I would like all these guys to get the chance to go outside, see the high level, gain some experience, and also get some extra tips on how Europeans and the Chinese play. They’re the top in the world, so learning from them would do Barbados well in the future.”
Farley wants Barbados to be a consistent high-level performer in the Caribbean, as well as in Latin America.
“Hopefully, the Pan American level too, and in the long-term being able to compete at the global level with some of our players trying to make the top 100 in the world. That’s the ultimate goal. I won’t ask for miracles, but I believe, with the right steps put in place, it can happen.”
Another Farley, Trevor’s younger brother Kevin, has been out of the limelight in recent times. But Trevor is hopeful the 2008 Caribbean men’s singles champion will soon be playing a role in the development of Barbados table tennis.
“Kevin hasn’t been playing much,” Trevor explains. “But we now have a new executive, and I think the thinking is to try to bring him back into the fold to help guide the youngsters into this new era of table tennis.”
The elder Farley has been doing all he can to ensure a smooth transitionary process. Taking young players to Trinidad and Tobago for the annual WASA Invitational Tournament is part of his master plan.
“When I was a young player, exposure to other Caribbean countries was important, some better, some not as good. It gives the opportunity to play against a higher level, sometimes taking a loss, and trying to fight back from there. Also, when you go out to countries that are not as good as us, you learn how to win and be confident in winning.” (KL)