Editorial

New vision needed for Jamaica's football

Saturday, July 01, 2017

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Jamaicans said their final farewell to the legendary football visionary Captain Horace Burrell with a thanksgiving service for his life on Wednesday.

Readers will recall that Captain Burrell, who held the candle and led the way to Jamaica's greatest achievement in football qualification for the FIFA World Cup of 1998, died from cancer on June 6.

But life goes on, and now the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), and the wider football fraternity, must see its way to move forward without Captain Burrell.

We are told that an interim JFF president could be selected today at a board of directors' meeting to carry on the work until an annual general meeting is organised at a minimum 60 days after notice is served.

According to Mr Raymond Grant, the JFF general secretary, there is no certainty that an interim leader will actually be named at what is a regular board meeting.

Said Mr Grant: “…On the agenda will be an item to look at the way forward as it relates to the presidency position. There are several options that the board can consider, chief among which is the naming of an interim president.”

Names are being bandied about of prominent people in and around football who could end up at the helm over the long term.

Whatever happens today, and at a voting congress further down the road, it is obvious that the new leadership of Jamaica's football will have complex issues to deal with.

The truth is that Jamaica's football has moved forward at disappointingly slow pace since 1998.

The goal set way back then of modernising and 'professionalising' the game is nowhere near to being realised. And that failure is reflected in the poor standard of local football and the inconsistency of performance at the regional and global level.

We well recall plans announced years ago for a radical restructuring of the football programme, including a reduction of the number of clubs to “manageable levels” and development of an organised, sustainable, properly financed franchise system.

Back in 2012 we were told that there was an unmanageable 450 recognised football clubs across the country. We are aware that very little, if anything, has changed in that regard since then.

Yet, as the then second vice-president of the JFF, Mr Bruce Gaynor, explained at the time, Jamaica's football will remain stagnant without radical restructuring.

“The current demographics and economics cannot support the number of clubs operating across the island in order to select eligible players for national and club purposes to ply their trade professionally,” Mr Gaynor told an annual awards ceremony in St Elizabeth in 2012.

“Financial support, overall good management, proper infrastructure and the talent pool of players is stretched very wide in Jamaica and, consequently, stultify all efforts to improve the level of football in the country,” he added.

We have heard similar sentiments down the years from others with vast knowledge of football as well as business.

The JFF, under new leadership, will have to take the bull by the horns.

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