Dennis Callender looks forward to training each day with the Barbados Football Association’s top-flight team, so much so that he sees it as an integral part of his work/life balance.
And working alongside Head Coach Russell Latapy is also an added incentive for the trainer and medic of the senior men’s team.
“We have a very good management team here, always present, enthusiastic and pushing the players to the next level. This is the best team I have ever worked with during my football career being a part of management. And I really enjoy coming every day and working with these guys,” he said smiling brightly ahead of one of the weekly training sessions.
“I’ve seen a big change in football over the years, even structural because we have our own home. Football to me is on the right path and the players are motivated and enthusiastic to reach the next level and that is a plus,” he said enthusiastically.
And while he acknowledged COVID-19 gave the team somewhat of a setback, Callender, who has almost half a century of experience in his field, said the team could get back to where they were before to tackle Guyana in the looming Qualifiers of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
“Before COVID-19 interrupt our training program, our guys were peaking in fitness. We’ve had a slight setback because it is over three months now we haven’t done this kind of intense training. Latapy has his plan in place, so I think we could get back on track. Once the fellas continue to train hard and come out every training day and put in their personal work, we will be ready for when FIFA and Concacaf come calling,” he said.
Overall, he said he was proud of the team and the hard work they put in to ensure they were at their maximum.
“They’re not what we would call in the military sharp, but they put in 100 per cent every time they come on the pitch. They know where they want to go, where we want to reach, where we want to take Barbados football. And that is important to have everybody on board and that too is a plus,” he said.
Callender’s days as a trainer and medic date back to then-president Ronald Jones. His focus used to be more on the junior players, but he had since changed his focus to the seniors.
And while he said he enjoyed working with both cohorts, the former soldier noted the juniors required more direct training while the seniors were more indirectly trained.
“I think it is a lot of patience when you’re working with the junior team. With the senior team, they are more mature players and they understand the basics and have the skill and attitude to carry out the actual activity being dealt with at the point in time. With the junior players, the skill level may not be that high, the knowledge base will not be that high and you have to work really closely with them,” he explained.
One of the biggest hiccups facing the senior men was soft tissue injuries. However, the medic took his role very seriously in getting the men in tip-top shape for each encounter.
“My role is to assess them and do the basic treatment; a little ice, compress and let them elevate the limb, and then pass them on to the doctor or physiotherapist for further treatment. Football is a contact sport and you will get fellas who may get cake or twist their ankle or they get elbowed.
“There’re also other injuries they will get like lacerations by an elbow which requires sutures. In my career, I’ve seen one or two where a fella would get elbowed in the face and get a laceration over the eye where they would need sutures. Depending on the severity of the injury, he will be sent off to the doctor or we would apply butterfly sutures and he is well. But we don’t really get those sort of serious injuries in football. But if we did, I am ready to handle them,” he said.
Callender also said having a physiotherapist on board was an added bonus.
“Having the physiotherapist on board, I find that that rotation is very quick because the treatment is immediate. As a trainer then I can do that rehabilitative therapy and get the players back to full fitness,” he said.