Editorial

Mr Schafer is on the right track

Saturday, February 01, 2014    

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GERMANS are renowned for their organised, business-like approach.

All indications are that Mr Winfried Schafer, who has agreed in principle to be head coach of Jamaica's football for the next four years, is no different.

If we read him right, Mr Schafer is not overly concerned about the size of his salary. Obviously, like any professional in any field of endeavour, he has to pay attention to the bottom line.

Crucially, though, Mr Schafer wants to make sure that Jamaicans will join him wholeheartedly in a focused effort at not just qualifying the Reggae Boyz for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals in Russia, but in the transformation of Jamaican football.

For that reason, Mr Schafer is telling Jamaicans that they need to desist from dwelling so much on having qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup Finals in France -- the most glorious period of Jamaica's football.

Instead, he says, Jamaicans need to ask themselves what prevented the country from qualifying for 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. Mr Schafer is challenging Jamaicans to look at themselves and correct the failings.

The truth is that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has been repeatedly trying to replicate 1998 without doing the work which led to that success. It's useful to remember that in the three to four years of the build-up to 1998, then coach Mr Rene Simoes and his assistant Mr Carl Brown meticulously built a team whose core was largely from the Under-23s of the mid-1990s mixed with a few older and younger players.

Football chief, Captain Horace Burrell, should remember well, since it was his vision that brought Mr Simoes to Jamaica and launched the successful Road to France campaign.

Even then, as Mr Simoes chucklingly said at the time, the work he and his team did shouldn't have been enough. He said then that Jamaicans were seeking to defy logic by installing the roof before building the foundation.

If we are to be honest, we will accept that, while there has been considerable improvement in physical infrastructure and tactical awareness over the last 16 years, the solid foundation for Jamaica's football is yet to be built.

We believe Mr Schafer is on the right track when he says Jamaican football must have a clear philosophy that is shared by all.

"We cannot play the German style or the Brazilian style here. It has to be Jamaica's own style, but we have to work better on the tactics, on the fitness, on the motivation, and on the courage," says Mr Schafer.

Mr Schafer wants the support of not just the JFF but the clubs and the entire football fraternity to take his vision forward.

"We have to talk together and work out what we have to do to make football better in Jamaica. We think about the past, but we also have to look to the future," says he.

Crucially, too, Mr Schafer has to be given space and time to make his vision work. Being a serious and seasoned professional, he is unlikely to accept any less.

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