Usually when I am headed to Kensington it is August and I am either late for a game, drinks, or both, during the Barbados Hockey Festival. Yesterday, however, as I pulled up to meet with Robin Parris it was to speak about his yeoman service to his national colours under three sporting disciplines.
Robin, who is currently working for the WICB/BCA as the territorial development officer here in Barbados, donned the national colours on the football field, hockey turf and cricket pitch.
Football was a five-year spell from 1991 to ‘96, during which he would have earned 15 caps. After juniors in 1991, Robin took a long break from hockey to return 2002 to ‘05 most notably narrowly missing out on gold at the 2002 CAC games in Puerto Rico.
Although he only has the one cap in cricket, Robin has played professionally in Ireland and the UK. To this date sport is still his passion and he can be seen prominently during the Hockey Festival supporting his team ABC where his son now plays and at all levels of cricketing events nationwide.
After last week’s edition of Sporting World, we spoke to Robin about what he thought about representing his country across three sporting disciplines.
What would you say you would have done differently or specially to get to the top levels in three sports?
Funny enough it came naturally… I say that because I always used to play cricket, football or hockey at Empire and the guys realised I had the natural talent whatever I was playing. Cricket is something I really got into after but the football and the hockey I would say I had some natural skill. Especially when it came to hockey as a goal scorer.
Where football is concerned I started playing out in the mini league for Graduates A&L (Ancil and Lawrence) and they would have had from U13 right up, so I came through that programme. For hockey I made my debut at 14 at Empire and I played for them up to when they had stopped playing in the league. At that time, I went over to Wanderers for a few years and the rest is history.
I remember being called to national trials (hockey) on a number of occasions but I was never interested and I can remember in 2001 we went to the Commonwealth Games and we got totally hammered. The then coach, Peter Norville, and captain, Paul Ince, came to me and my good friend Anthony Trotman and said we want you guys to come and give this team a boost.
At that age at that point in time I wasn’t sure I wanted to take my body through that sort of training but I went and got some fitness and made the team where we went to the CAC in Puerto Rico and we actually won the silver medal losing to Trinidad and Tobago in the final.
Take us through some of the most memorable moments throughout your chosen sports:
Cricket… I think one of the most memorable moments for me would be the 2010 T20 title. It would have been my first trophy/major title as a coach and I think, for me it was very special. As a player, in 2009, it would have to be Empire playing Spartan at Bank Hall, with Sulieman Benn bowling and we needing three off the last ball and I was on strike. I hit that delivery out of the ground and the whole field would have instantly flooded with people. Empire and Spartan have always had a fierce rivalry, for years and decades gone by, and that made it even more memorable. Obviously Empire has basically won every major title; we have been really successful.
Football… would have to be 1991. Empire won the premier league unbeaten, and for me that was memorable… To be 18 or 19 at the time and having been voted best goalkeeper – it was special.
Hockey would definitely have to be 2002 although we eventually lost the final it was just a great experience on a whole. It was the first time we had won a medal in a number of years and it was really a good feeling.
Obviously representing your country is a very special thing… I remember representing Barbados at U19 for football and the national anthem was playing in Guatemala and we would always face the flag and… I started to cry, you are singing your anthem and the emotions start and the passion, we actually won that game against USA.
There is a difference when you are representing just a few members versus a whole country. Today I think too much emphasis is placed on the result and a lot of the pride, dignity and discipline are just forgotten.
Touching a bit on last week’s topic how important are the ABCs in your programmes?Firstly, I support any child cross training and/or playing more than one sport. One sport can tie into the other and so on. Here at the Kiddies Cricket programme, where a number of coaches touch about 50 schools, and they teach what we call the ABCs of cricket. Where the emphasis on building a love for the game and not so much on the elite stuff.
What is your personal coaching philosophy?
Well, again, because a large part of what I do is with the kids, my philosophy is more aligned to their enjoyment of the session and building a long term passion in them for the sport. So I wouldn’t say so much that there is a philosophy as much as an emphasis for them to enjoy the game. Of course as we get to the higher levels I would be looking for different things and building different coaching concepts so I would say it differs a lot by age group.
Walk us through the cricket career.
First of all, I started playing cricket at Wesley Hall Primary in 1986 where we won the Herman Griffith, and we have won it more times than any other school and I think they even won it in 2015 making it something like 16 times.
I would have started with Adrian Griffith, my good friend Horace King, Patrick Bishop, Simon Marshall… we had a really good team. That was the team of 1986.
Then I would have gone on to St Leonard’s, but at that time they didn’t have a team so I had to go use Empire as my ground to keep practising. I would have started representing them in 2nd division at 16. I wasn’t as developed then as I should have been. The other guys I played with at primary school would have benefited from having programmes at their schools.
Adrian went to Harrison College where there always had cricket, Horace went to St Michael where there was big cricket, Patrick went to Roebuck where there was cricket also so… I was probably the only person lacking a programme at school.
Carlisle Best and Roland Holder – they actually helped me, talked to me, mentored me, and so on. My first captain at Empire, Ricky Griffith, helped me through 2nd division and then they realised I had some talent and pushed me into the intermediate team.
I would have played there for the rest of the year and then went to youth trials where I barely missed out. After which I would have played the entire year with combined schools that would have been 1991.
From then on I would have represented Empire until about 2006.
In between there ’95, ‘96, ’97… I played cricket in Yorkshire, which is the coldest part of England by the way. I also played for Bishop Thornton and in ’96 I went over to Northern Ireland and played for Coleraine, which is the coldest part of England again, I swear.
Around 2006 with the knees taking longer and longer to recover I stopped playing so much and got into coaching. I went to the workshops through the BCA, actually the former territorial development officer, Wendell Coppin, encouraged me to really get into the coaching aspect of it.
What would you say is the single concept that you have applied to all your sporting exploits?I believe mental preparation. You can have all the skill in the world but if you are not prepared mentally… failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Listening to music while visualising the game obviously by myself. Thinking on what I expect to happen, who do I think would be the troublesome people to deal with. Just trying to paint a picture of what the game would be like so there would be less surprises. The music part for me was very important as it would add a level of calm so when I was actually ready to go instead of being anxious I would be level and calm.