Let's build on this Gold Cup achievement

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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Today Jamaica play the United States of America in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup the most prestigious tournament in our region of the world.

This early Jamaica 55 gift from the Reggae Boyz signals another upswing in our fortunes as a footballing nation, as it opens the doors for our more gifted footballers to obtain contracts with the better clubs across the world. We are being noticed again.

Reaching the final of the Gold Cup, which we have now achieved for the second-consecutive tournamet, comes after intensive scrutiny and much criticism of Reggae Boyz coach Mr Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore. Many self-proclaimed pundits of the game questioned Mr Whitmore's worth and ability as a coach to get the best out of those wearing the black, green and gold.

That Mr Whitmore withstood these sometimes vicious denunciations is a tribute to his fortitude and resilience. He quietly went about his job and now has delivered a most welcomed notch on our football boots.

Of course, the arguments will still rage as to the use of home-grown players as against those who are born of Jamaican parents and who ply their trade in the various leagues on foreign soil.

The position of this newspaper on this never-ending and most times damaging controversy is that the best players available must represent the country at all times.

There is no doubt that we have some good players here, but it is obvious that our footballing authorities have not placed enough emphasis on making a concerted effort to develop a strong and effective local league, which then becomes the natural feeding tree for the national programme.

Our schoolboy programme, usually heavily publicised in the local media, has produced some players with potential but, unlike athletics, where many of these students go on to make a mark on the international stage, our footballers in the various schoolboy competitions hardly ever make that decisive trek to the upper echelons of the sport. There is a major gap between youngsters coming out of the various youth programmes, including the schoolboy programme, to the national side.

This gap has to be plugged quickly if we are to truly evolve as a strong and even more respected footballing nation.

We therefore urge our officials at the various parish associations to move with haste in electing a new football federation president, and demand of him or her that prominence be placed on a more structured development of our young footballers.

The country's Gold Cup semi-final berth beating the much-vaunted Mexicans must be the catalyst for an upsurge, a sort of renaissance of the country's football prowess, which we strongly believe starts at the grass roots with our young “ballers”.

In 1998 we did the unthinkable and became the first English-speaking Caribbean country to reach the finals of the World Cup. Now we have reached our second Gold Cup final, proving once and for all that we can do it, despite the many challenges. Let's now build on this achievement and go even further.

Win, lose, or draw tonight, the Reggae Boyz have done us immensely proud and we congratulate them and say thanks.

The late Captain Horace Burrell is, no doubt, happy and smiling.




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