[Written by Patrick Bean]
“One coach will impact more young people in a season than the average person in a lifetime.” – Billy Graham
It was not by accident that Danvers [Dio] Seymour Jr ventured into coaching football; it was destiny.
From the day he arrived on planet Earth, Seymour was earmarked for this specialised area of the teaching profession, with the added mission of using skills imbued to uplift the west end community and, by extension, his country.
As the son of Danvers Seymour Sr, a supremely talented centre-back/midfield maestro who gained prominence as a member of the vaunted PHC Zebras of the 60s and 70s, while also representing Bermuda at the Pan American Games, Olympic Qualifiers, and receiving a bronze medal at the CAC Games, Seymour the younger was born into a rich football heritage.
More importantly was the fact that the father was both a coach and educator, all of which infected and influenced the son, who would ultimately make a similar migration toward the instructional side of football after having his playing career derailed by an injury sustained in a motorcycle collision.
Seymour Jr made news at the end of last season after being snubbed in balloting for the Senior Women’s League Coach of the Year award, despite guiding Somerset to league and Knockout Cup honours.
Members of his squad were also denied consideration for the Most Valuable Player award and Defensive Player of the Year awards after a 2022-23 campaign that saw them concede a measly three goals in league play.
While Seymour was a tad miffed regarding the obvious slight, his greater concerns were and have always been the impact such denials have upon young minds striving for success, rather than his own receipt of congratulatory trinkets and gushing speeches.
“I don’t coach for the accolades, I coach for my community and I hope to empower those that I coach,” explained Seymour, who had also guided Somerset’s Under-17 male football team to a perfect season, where they went undefeated in capturing the double, league and Appleby KO Cup. “So, if I don’t get an award then so it go, because that’s not what I’m in it for.
“I appreciate any accomplishments accolades or acknowledgments that I do receive and all that and I don’t take them lightly. But I’ve put in a lot of work over the years and I appreciate all blessings and recognition if that be a by-product of my being able to empower others.
“Regardless of what transpires or has transpired, you move on and continue to put your best foot forward and if these types of things fall in my lap I’m grateful for them.”
Such has been the 45-year-old’s commitment to the more at risk members of his community that he vacated the senior men’s head coach position at Somerset after winning the Premier division title in 2015 in order to spend more time with the youth.
Seizing a league title was a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that few had given the west enders a ghost of a chance of accomplishing such glory during what was supposed to be a rebuilding period.
However, his time away from the top level was brief, as he was temporarily called back to fill his former post following the sudden departure of successor, Keishon Smith, who quit after just a year in charge.
Seymour takes to heart the club’s motto ‘semper paratus,’ a Latin phrase meaning ‘always prepared’ and such is what he instills and so demands from his charges.
Why does he take such keen interest in the youth of his community?
Because the same community once served and inspired him to action.
“When I was younger the success of Trojans instilled some sort of pride in me,” said Seymour, who owns and operates his own water trucking business. “And it’s a big chunk of Trojans’ pride that I walk with and I just want us to be a recognized force in the football world and a part of the fabric and culture of sport in Bermuda.
“So, wherever I can put my hands in and represent my community, I’m happy to do so and that’s why I do it.”
Nevertheless, it’s not only his own community that Seymour would like to see positively impacted by what stands as the world’s most popular team sport and one recognised as an official national pastime.
“I believe that football in the country has to be more invested into,” furthered Seymour, who has created and implemented a football curriculum across the spectrum of Somerset’s youth programme, while also delivering coach education and strengthening the relationship with schools in Sandys parish in order to facilitate a clear pathway into the club programme.
“It’s the biggest, most populated, participatory sport on the island and I believe that, if Government, the BFA, private entities, and companies invested more into the sport, they can save a lot of lives, as well as provide more opportunities and open many pathways for our young footballers.
“A lot look to go abroad in order to play at the highest level, but I believe in developing football on island to a higher level.
“That is not to say that I’m not into the opportunities that may open up overseas, but I’m more so into raising our national level by raising the standard of our local leagues.
“I firmly believe that we have all of the potential here and that there’s no reason why we cannot thrust forward our players that are on island as much we do those abroad.
“When my father, Danvers Seymour Sr, used to play with the national program, Bermuda used to beat the United States. Bermuda used to beat Mexico, Canada, and others.
“So, there’s no reason why we should not be able to compete at this stage.
“Us not being able to now means that our game has stagnated, while others have gone forward. It also means that we have a lot of work to do and we have to work harder and it’s for us to identify and implement the proper systems for our local product to advance and close the gap on them, just as they closed the gap and overtook us.”
And such is not wishful thinking being promoted by Seymour, as on any given afternoon or evening he can be found at West End field teaching while demanding excellence from sizeable groups of young men, teenage boys, and women with an intense enthusiasm that, time and again, has produced impressive results.