Blood them early, Whitmore!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Jamaica's athletics fans excepted, our sports fans tend not to be regular attendees at Jamaican sports history classes. That's perhaps why they, and modern administrators, don't know that there was a time, admittedly many moons ago, when not an eyebrow would be raised if a top schoolboy football star was catapulted right into the national senior team with little — or sometimes no — apprenticeship in senior club football.

Not anymore!

Now, unless a schoolboy star has gone through age-group competitions, done hard labour in the premier league, or gone abroad on a scholarship or to an overseas club, his chances of becoming a Reggae Boy seem almost nil. More often, it seems, few are seldom heard from once their Manning or daCosta Cup days are done.

Having spent October watching several daCosta Cup matches across the island, one diamond stands out: Lamar Walker of Clarendon College. He has a combination of skills rarely seen these days at any level of Jamaican football. He has excellent ball control, dribbles superbly with both feet, has a quicksilver change of pace to go past defenders, runs into space, passes and shoots accurately. Most importantly, he can read the game — a skill hard to coach. He cannot be too many years away from national senior honours — I hope.

So anyone who thinks we lack local talent can think again. There are other outstanding players among the Manning Cup teams as well. Why then are we continuing to import ordinary players from the English clubs (such as error-prone Michael Hector)?

Thankfully, athletics has no such inhibitions. Ever since the 1960s, when Kingston Technical High School girl Una Morris ran out of the classroom to fourth place in the Tokyo Olympics 200 metres and Camperdown's Errol Stewart ran the opening leg on the world record-setting sprint relay team in Mexico four years later, the approach has always been: If you're fast enough, you're good enough.

Football needs to copy this successful approach. Otherwise, we'll continue to lose our budding schoolboy stars. Over to you, Coach Theodore Whitmore.

Errol W A Townshend

Ontario, Canada

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