Editorial

In the shadow of Brazil 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014    

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We are now just over a month away from that magical period which comes every four years when everything slows, and sometimes stops, so people can watch FIFA World Cup football.

Hosts Brazil have cut it close in terms of getting their preparations done. But available evidence suggests they will be ready for the most anticipated tournament in global sport.

For Jamaicans, the pain of having missed out on a place among the 32 nations in Brazil 2014 still lingers.

Yet, for the coach Mr Winfried Schaefer and his staff it's pleasing that in the run-up to football's greatest festival, Jamaica have been able to cash in on warm-up games in late May to early June against Serbia, Switzerland and France — the latter two among the favoured 32.

As if to provide 'brawta', word came this week that North African football giants Egypt — who like Jamaica missed out on a spot in Brazil — will also meet the Reggae Boyz during the same period.

For Mr Schaefer et al, these games will provide invaluable information on the players at his disposal. And notwithstanding the fact that they will most likely be of low intensity, such friendly internationals allow for realistic measurement regarding the level of the Reggae Boyz relative to the leading international teams.

Crucially too, as head of Jamaica's football Captain Horace Burrell has pointed out, such 'friendlies' should provide priceless preparation for the Caribbean Cup to be held in Montego Bay later this year.

First place in that competition would allow the national team to qualify, not just for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but also an automatic spot at the cash-rich centennial 2016 edition of the COPA America which will embrace the giants of South America and six nations from CONCACAF.

Of course, by 2016 Jamaica will be involved in qualifying competition for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

All of that aside, we suspect that the cash-strapped Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) will be anticipating earnings from the 'friendlies' in May/June to help pay bills.

At bottom line, it's all part of the drive to lift and grow Jamaica's football.

Jamaicans need to be aware, however, that it can't all be done by looking to the Reggae Boyz. Indeed, of even more critical importance is the development of a viable local programme from grassroots upwards, which will ultimately redound to a sustainably strong national team.

In that respect we await more details of plans announced by the JFF for a franchise system to replace the existing top-tier club structure.

It's obvious that there needs to be greater push to 'professionalise' Jamaica's football. However, for a franchise system to work there must be the resource wherewithal and know-how twinned to desire on the part of major football stakeholders, including clubs and sponsors.

Are the stakeholders in Jamaica's football at that place yet? We have our doubts.

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