For Ed Fernandes, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing athletes develop through his program and go on to successful hockey careers. He is thrilled, sitting in the stands watching a university game featuring some of his former program athletes. But Fernandes is happiest when he is on the field, coaching. Ed Fernandes is the definition of a development coach and is being recognized as the recipient of the 2020 Male Development Coach Award.
Spending his childhood in Tanzania, Fernandes was a touted goalkeeper and upon his arrival in Canada in 1968 was identified for the national program. Although he never made it onto the Canadian national team, Fernandes continued to play into the early 2000s. But it’s on the coaching side of the game where he has made his most significant contribution.
His coaching and administrative resume is impressive. This is a man that has been involved in all levels of the game including national junior, indoor national program and numerous national championships. His experience came through practice, dedication but he also highlights his observational experience as someone who has been on many international tours.
“I never thought that much about it, but I gained a lot of experience from seeing different countries play,” he said. “My son played in the world cup, qualifiers, Olympics. We went all over the world and I saw a lot of hockey and I had no option but to learn.”
Right around the same time as he retired from playing, Fernandes got involved with coaching younger age groups and getting involved with junior hockey. He took that observational knowledge and combined it with a passion for teaching. Currently, Fernandes is the Club Director and Head Coach for the GOA Reds Field Hockey Club, where he has built a culture of community, family and development. Not only does he work hand in hand with his family, that culture has extended to how he develops athletes.
“I just love taking in an athlete who has never played the sport and teaching [them] and watching them excel,” Fernandes said. “And then they [go on to] play in a Canadian university or get a U.S. scholarship. It gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
Part of his mission is to develop quality people on top of quality hockey players. Through his disciplined coaching methods and providing opportunity and experience, he aims to teach his athletes about more than just hockey.
“We call it a family. Everyone feels comfortable. We provide a well-rounded program and they can grow as people and players,” he said. “Some of these kids have never traveled before so we take them on trips and give them that experience.”
Sometimes it still surprises Fernandes how much he has really accomplished in the community.
“I mean we must be doing something right If we have kids from Oakville, Burlington, even Buffalo. And the kids stay, they enjoy it,” he said.
Fernandes speaks enthusiastically about his role as a coach and knows the value of giving back to a community that has given him so much joy over the years.
“I believe in the sport…and coaching is my passion,” he said. “every time I’m out there, I’m having a ball doing it.”
The Field Hockey Canada Coach Award program is supported by Gryphon Hockey