Every so often, a player/players graduate and decide to offer their experiences back into the team by way of coaching. By no means is coaching an easy job. As Assistant Coaches, their role is to provide help in promoting an appreciation of physical fitness, skill, teamwork, and sportsmanship. The assistant coaches assist in providing leadership and supervision for team and individual activities and work closely with the other staff. With experiences as former players, these individuals usually are able to relate to the current players and also act as a bridge in creating a bond between the main coaches and the newly recruited rookies.
We caught up with current Assistant coach to the wide-receivers and ex alumna of the university of Portsmouth, Leslie Qwesi. With plenty to ask Coach Qwesi, we got right into it with our questions. Leslie had plenty to say in regard to how it feels to have swapped the usual pads and helmet, to being one of the coaching staff.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
Hi am Leslie, I studied Mechanical Engineering at the university of Portsmouth and graduated with a masters in summer 2018.
WHAT BEST DESCRIBES YOU?
I am a relaxed guy that spreads positive vibes only!! I try my best to make everyone around me laugh no matter their mood! You could call me a bit of a class clown, I guess.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO PLAYING FOR THE DESTROYERS?
Well, it’s a sport I had always found interesting. I wasn’t sure if I was the playing type, but when I came to College (hope you saw what I did there), I wanted to try something new and I found football. I initially joined just for the fitness aspect of it but hey ho I liked it much more once I started carrying the ball.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR?
Difficult question as I don’t have favourites, but I do like the colours; black, grey & blue.
WHICH NFL TEAM DO YOU SUPPORT & WHY?
I don’t support a team, I am a fan of the sport and probably would say I follow players more than I follow a team. But I tend to follow whatever team was on Hard Knocks throughout the season.
IS THERE ANYWHERE IN PORTSMOUTH’S CAMPUS THAT HOLDS A SPECIAL MEMORY OF YOUR UNIVERSITY DAYS?
Well I have always said that if your uni buildings are not Anglesea, Richmond, Portland or any of those immediate buildings that are in that big “square” you aren’t studying a real degree, so I guess that is the part of the campus I am most attached to.
IN YOUR OPINION WHAT WOULD YOU SAY BEST DESCRIBES PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS AS A TEAM?
The Portsmouth Destroyers are a family. They’re fierce, friendly, ambitious, zealous and have a drive to succeed.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DESTROYERS MEMORY?
Well that depends if you’re talking on or off the field. On the field, I would say our time in Division 2 was my favourite time not because that team probably was too good to be in that division, but because I learnt so much about football & myself. I made brothers on that field and hopefully I get to play with them one more time before they all get rusty!
Off the field I would say it was Salou 2015. I cannot disclose any more than that because let’s just say what happens in Salou stays in Salou.
WHICH TEAMS DID YOU ENJOY PLAYING AGAINST THE MOST DURING YOUR SEASONS WITHT THE DESTROYERS?
Southampton and Brunel. Southampton mainly because they are our neighbouring rivals and the fixtures were always hyped. Brunel because well, they not only ruined what was meant to be a perfect season, but also because they were a bunch of ……! We then went to their grounds and delivered a win we had been looking for.
IN WHAT WAY DID YOUR TIME AT PORTSMOUTH INFLUENCE YOU?
My time at Portsmouth shaped me to become the young black man I am today. It brought out the ugly and beauty in me and has definitely made me appreciate the less crowded population I was used to in London.
NOW THAT YOU ARE AN ASSISTANT COACH TO THE WIDE-OUTS, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE TRANSITIONED FROM PLAYER TO COACH AFTER YOUR STUDIES?
It has honestly been a weird one. For the past 4 years, I have been so accustomed to kitting up on game day and not being able to now at first was a bit hard. The way I speak to players has changed as well, not that it was bad before, but the tone and my choice of words are more thought through.
I help pretty much anywhere I can but mostly help with the Wide Receivers as I myself was a Wide Receiver for the team and I had the privilege to play in every division in the BUCS league. So, my knowledge comes from a place of experience and studying. I would say I pass my knowledge on to the players as best as I can.
IN YOUR OWN OPINION, WHICH SIDE OF THE BALL WINS GAMES. OFFENCE OR DEFENCE?
Well from my playing experience, it has always been Defence that’s kept us in most games.
WHAT IS YOUR SUPER BOWL PREDICTION THIS YEAR?
To be honest, I don’t mind so long as it is not the Patriots. I have an inkling it will be Saints Vs Rams/Chiefs. But I honestly can’t pick between those two teams based on their current form.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE LOOKING TO PLAY THE SPORT FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Buy into the programme!! Football teaches you who you are as a man or woman. It literally teaches you no matter how hard you get hit and fall in life, you got to pick yourself up and keep on going and to me that’s what life is all about. On that journey you will make brothers and sisters for life.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO STUDENTS AND ALUMNI FOR SUCCESS IN LIFE AFTER UNIVERSITY?
Just like football, the only two things you can control are your attitude and effort. Those two things go hand in hand and if one of them is S*!T you make your chances of being successful considerably harder so just make sure those two things are always at 100% and you will succeed sooner than you think.
It is without a doubt important to sustain a relationship with the team once you graduate. The impact alumni make into supporting the team post their studies does not go unnoticed. Be it may that distance and careers move individuals away from Portsmouth, it is the memories and camaraderie formed during years with the Destroyers that form a bond with past, present and future players of this glorious team.
Coach Qwesi is not the first or last former player to continue supporting the team in multiple avenues. However, it is his passion for the game that has driven him to becoming a coach. Like the rest of the Destroyers family, Coach Qwesi eagerly awaits the team’s first victory in the heavily contested BUCS South premiership tier of football. We hope that with all his past experiences, he can pass down wise words of wisdom that will drive the boys to their first win.