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Gavin Jeanne: Seychelles' Football Coach of The Year 2023/24

Victoria, Seychelles | June 22, 2024, Saturday @ 09:30 in Editorial » THE INTERVIEW | By: Sedrick Nicette Edited By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3226
Gavin Jeanne: Seychelles' Football Coach of The Year 2023/24

Gavin Jeanne won the Coach of the Year award. (Gavin Jeanne) 

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The Seychelles' football season has been a good one for Premier League champions St. Louis, aside from winning the league title, their players made a sweep of individual awards at the recent Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) Awards ceremony.

Gavin Jeanne won the Coach of the Year award, after leading his side to a first league title since 2017.

SNA spoke to Jeanne to learn more about his journey after injury cut short his playing days.  

 

SNA: What does winning this award mean to you?

GJ: I am happy for the players who won individual awards because my job as a coach is to always get the best out of my players and push them to their limits. It's not only those who win awards, but also those who are called up to the national team, for example, Johan Gamatice, who represented Seychelles for the first time in the country's last two games. It's all about the players. The performance sometimes brings individual recognition, even though that's not my objective. But, it is an honour for me to win this award, and I dedicate it to my players, past and present, my assistant coach, the St. Louis management, and everyone who has continued to support me even in tough times. Yes, it's an individual award, but I see it as a team award.

 

SNA: When you started the season with St. Louis, were you expecting to win the league and the award for Coach of the Year?

GJ: You know, this is the first time I have worked with a team whose objective is to win the league. My previous team for one reason or another, was always looking for me to help them to remain active or to simply stay in the division. Joining St. Louis was a long time coming, but I always wanted to honour my commitments to the teams I was with. Finally, Davis Khan (St. Louis manager), who I have worked with previously with The Lions and the national team, convinced me to join.

For the first time in my life, I felt I needed to prove the critics wrong, so with St.Louis, I was afforded that opportunity. The objective this season for St Louis was the league title and nothing else, so the expectation was high even if we lost some key players at the start of the season. But in life, everything happens in God's timing and God's will.

 

SNA: Let us talk about your journey in football. Firstly, how were your days as a player?

GJ: Football has always been here. I played a little for Cadets (14 to 16 years old), before moving to Plaisance at 18 years old. Plaisance at that time was in the second division, but three years later, we won promotion to the top division, after losing in the play-off to Ascot the previous season. We did well in our first season to finish fourth, but, the year after, many players left the team and I joined Sunshine, which had a lot of great players, such as Brian Ravignia, Ted Esther, and others.

I was not on their level, but it was a time when I learned a lot from Ulrich Mathiot, who was the coach at the time. The year after, when I was 24, I joined Foresters, but during my first season, in a match against Athletico Juniors, I injured my knee and never recovered, which meant I stopped playing at 24 years old.

Jeanne in a training session with St. Louis Football Club. (Gavin Jeann) Photo License: CC-BY 

 

SNA: So, did you decide to take coaching after that?

GJ: Before coaching, Eddie Maillet, who I had met while playing for Plaisance, asked me to join refereeing. I started and even officiated first division matches. During that same time, Leslie Mathiot asked me to help him with Foresters Youth. I helped for a few sessions, and the year after I took charge of the youth team. I was 26 at the time. Foresters Youth was doing well at the time and the year after I was approached to take charge of the Cadet Under 16 team, where I had already started my coaching course.

In my first year at Cadet, we won promotion to the second division and after three years, we finished second in the division, but then the SFF decided to shut the team down. The Lions, who had been demoted from the top division that same season, approached me to take over and they had lost most of their players. So, when I joined, nine players from Cadets moved with me. In our first season, we finished the league unbeaten and won promotion. For the next six years, The Lions became a stable first division side and even reached three semi-finals. After that, I decided to step down and the Seychelles national team came calling.

 

SNA: How was your time in charge of the national team?

GJ: The first time I took over the national team was as interim coach in 2012, after the Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG). It was a time when many players were refusing to play for the team due to discontent over their rewards after the Games and I was brought in to help. I did but refused to take the role permanently.

After the 2015 IOIG, I was again approached but rejected it and was approached again in 2018. I accepted and relished the challenge of taking on Nigeria. I believe we played well in most matches and even at the IOIG, even if we did not win any medals, but made it to the semi-final.

But my time with the national team was a dark period in my life, as many were trying to destroy me through social media, sports programmes on the radio, anonymous letters and even in my employment. But that did not deter and made me stronger.

 

SNA: You coached the Defence Forces after that. How was the experience?

GJ: When the Defence Forces approached me, they said that if they did not get a coach, the team would be shut down. We started the season well, going unbeaten for five games, but then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and football stopped. That also meant the downfall of the team as it could not be maintained, especially when they lost Colonel Roseline as president of the team. The return to football then proved difficult for them.

 

SNA: So, what is next for you now?

GJ: I have an agreement for another two years with St. Louis and I intend to honour that. But, after that, I will think and decide on whether I will continue or retire from coaching. 

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Tags: Seychelles Football Federation, Coach of the Year award

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