A challenge the JFF must confront head on

Editorial

A challenge the JFF must confront head on

Saturday, February 08, 2020

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Jamaicans are so accustomed to their sportsmen and women punching above their weight that they are often guilty of expecting too much.

In the most recent case, it was always going to be extremely difficult for the 51st-ranked Reggae Girlz to make it out of an Olympic qualifying group which included eight-ranked Canada and Mexico at 26th in the Fifa rankings.

Yet, there were those — perhaps emboldened by the sensational qualification for last year's Fifa World Cup — holding high hopes of the Reggae Girlz coming through the Olympic qualifiers.

As it turned out, the national team did well while falling 0-1 to Mexico, before a devastating 0-9 loss to Canada. Much is being made of the margin of that defeat. However, it must be recognised that in competitive sport when you slip, you will sometimes slide. That's exactly what happened here.

As interim head coach Mr Hubert Busby said: “…it's unfortunate that… we were truly flat and didn't show what we are really capable of and that resulted in a big loss. But these things happen and the most important thing is that we learn from our mistakes…”

The Girlz's 7-0 win over St Kitts and Nevis may have salved wounds to some extent but victory by a significant margin was always expected.

Mr Busby's assertion that the football fraternity should learn from mistakes is crucial here.

As we have already indicated, even with the most ideal preparation, it would have been difficult for the Girlz to have qualified from their group. However, proper preparation would have given them the chance to compete with far greater efficiency and perhaps even pull off an upset.

It's obvious that preparation was in fact woefully inadequate. We are told that there was only a one-week training camp heading into the qualifiers. Add that to the disturbing squabbles and disagreements ending with the departure of the World Cup Coach Mr Hue Menzies, as well as his assistant Mr Lorne Donaldson, and subsequent last-minute appointment of Mr Busby and we get a picture of an unstable, untidy situation.

Truth be told though, a large part of the problem is that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) lacks the money needed to adequately support all its football programmes.

With the best will in the world, no football federation is able to properly prepare its teams in terms of training camps, international friendly games and so forth, without money.

The JFF is under stress to not only provide for its women's teams at senior and junior levels, but also its men's teams.

Attracting support is no easy task. And that's perhaps the biggest challenge facing JFF President Mr Michael Ricketts and his administrative team.

It's not just a matter of convincing potential private and public sector partners that football is a good investment.

Just as importantly, potential sponsors and partners must be convinced that the administrative and organisational capacity exists to ensure their investment is not wasted.

That's a challenge the JFF must confront head on.


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