We must not lose faith as the best is ahead. Things are dark, but we must live our lives well. Our forefathers emerged out of great suffering into freedom now we are in a better place and our job is to build prosperity. Let Jermaine Anderson aka "Tuffy" be a lesson — expect the unexpected, though some say "the stone that the builder rejected" is now in place.
Our ancestors never won the war and this should motivate us to win, but we must not believe our own hype and we must abandon notions of entitlement. The extortionists at traffic lights think because we drive and they don't they are entitled to reward for their failure. If you hunger for success you can win on adrenalin, but not if you are comfortable with mediocrity, where excuses replace results. The old lifestyle endowed our sport, but we may lose our national conditioning as most kids now play sedentary games and don't climb trees. As kids are better fed, plump, lack exercise, we erode one foundation of our sporting prowess. Walking to school was a fillip, so as school transport gets better we may need special measures to maintain the physical conditioning of our kids, the foundation of our hegemony in athletics.
The weight we assign to sport is not commensurate with the returns, though I am happy for the few millionaires. Sport is not Government's, as they get going near podium time.
The Excel School would bring the state front and centre. Our football is building though not as fast as the egos. We have grand notions, not grand results. If we are to produce players regularly called to try-out by say Arsenal or Man U we must not believe our own hype. Football is still a game of two halves as the Americans have not yet worked out how to infuse it with 30 minutes of advertising. We tantalise people with a vision of David and Goliath, but the form book does not point to our success in the remaining games. Still, by the "Tuffy Factor" we might win against the run of play. Remember 1998-Croatia, Argentina, Japan? the Batistuta hat-trick? Many dreams came true, but since then we seem to feel entitled to advancement, but this has no base in our record in CONCACAF. Last week we had a conniption as we failed to beat Costa Rica. Why? Football is not our finest sport but carries our biggest, unrealistic expectations. "Jamaica is always the winner because they learn" -- Rene Simoes. Rene, sadly years later we do the same thing and get worse results and our ambition seems to be to squeak into the finals not gain a glorious win.
We are individualists and teamwork is not our forte. Most teams are raging egos tolerating each other under a single banner. We are also bad losers. Many play but are not sportsmen, and we do not love a losing team -- not even ours. Last week we drew on the fieldm, but Costa Rica beat us in the stands. We did not turn up at "the Office" in numbers; our first love is not a sport but a win. The Tuffy fans should not gloat, as he was already on the squad and played all in the manager's good judgement. Do not diss overseas players, as their parent's remit funds to pay for food imports. We have no room for insecure, xenophobic egomaniacs. How many times we hear "bwoy dem a teef we music a Japan an Englan', tek weh we players an we nah get nutten outa it!" Yet for decades we covered R&B, enjoyed Brasil play and no one cussed us. We have taken a lot from the world, but do not give back with a generous spirit.
Athletics is our niche. How so? Some colonial teachers had a dream; not of fame, fortune, big egos, nor trading students, but of young black men embracing sport. Their legacy is inter-generational athletic prowess. Champs did it, and our stars are their legacy. What's our legacy? Maybe new events and jobs in manufacture of sports kits for the world? Our football, like our economy survives on imports, so give thanks and let's be sustainable and export something too.
The Excel School
The Ministry of Education has been gestating an initiative to escalate PE and music in school to provide the fitness foundation for sports, games and the instrumental base for music, entertainment. This needs major input by a PetroCaribe-type fund, as the budget cannot stretch. Who will help? We need more Tuffys and we can grow them -- educated footballers who choose it (or other sport) though they might have become masons or lawyers. We know our people love sport and music and it is time to stop fighting reality and create "Excel Schools" as incubators of sports and music talent. A minimum of 6 hours per week of PE/tennis or music/guitar, etc plus other content and no diminishing English or maths.
We don't have a century to work the Champs model. At secondary level no child needs 10 CSEC subjects, and even the American GED (like our High School Diploma Equivalent -- HSDE for out-of-school people from JFLL) is now 4 subjects. Are we being excessive? We can have many Excel Schools with emphases nodes as PE/football or PE/tennis etc or music/guitar or music/piano and voice. Hundreds of potential Tuffys are out there. Let's train them. An Excel is sexy and ideal to keep boys in class. I went to school with joy on the day Cadets went to the shooting range. Our Public Defender may attest that on those days every boy turned up to hit a bull's eye and we studied. We can create Tuffy's in sports and playing musical instruments. It needs support, major funding, and citizens must get behind it. We can win!
Bob Marley's statue was defaced after the Costa Rica match and many were in a snit. What a load of grit! We are so sanctimonious. Bob was no saint. For a week we forgot we were in an economic crisis and made people think that we care for national pride. Costa Rican fans came in strength and spent money all over our malls and the lunch queues at Sovereign bulged red and blue. They beat us in prosperity, in FDI, in English, and team loyalty. When a drunk defaces a war statue or Holocaust memorial erected to revere lives lost for a cause any comparison to Bob's is hollow. Bob was a regular guy and if throwing paint on his statue is all protesters do we will live. It would not have bothered him. He smoked no end of ganja (did it give him cancer?), breed nuff nuff woman, play football, guitar, lived well and died. Birds have been defacing his statue with more lethal stuff for years. Bob is not a saint and will miss national hero status because he broke so many laws of man and God. Defacing Bogle's or Gordon's memorial is major disrespect as these men gave their lives for us, everyone else is cream soda. Respect Bob! Stay conscious, my friend!
Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister of education. email@example.com