Of heroes, youth and their elders

Of heroes, youth and their elders

Saturday, October 24, 2020

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LIKE every other field of endeavour, sport has its fair share of unsung heroes.

We speak of people who serve their organisations, communities, fellow human beings, and areas of interest willingly, consistently, with no thought of reward, whether material or otherwise.

One such is Mr Clive “Busy” Campbell who for decades has immersed himself in the organisation and promotion of sport — more specifically football.

For 33 years, Mr Campbell has organised the annual Bell/Ziadie Memorial football festival to honour the memory of Messrs Jackie Bell and Dennis Ziadie, who both died in a bus crash while living their dream, attending the 1986 Fifa World Cup Finals in Mexico.

For Jamaicans of a youthful vintage, that was the tournament in which the awesomely skilful Mr Diego Maradona led and inspired Argentina to the World Cup title — the last such for that South American nation.

Mr Ziadie was a former national representative, stylish and skilful. Mr Bell was an outstanding coach, serving at every level including the national team. Great friends, they died together indulging their passion for football.

That Mr Campbell for all these years has remained true to the Bell/Ziadie Memorial football festival underlines a commitment to mission — not always a strength of the Jamaican personality. We applaud him.

Such has been the impact of COVID-19 that this year there was no way to actually play football as part of the Bell/Ziadie Memorial. Instead there was a formal ceremony that paid special recognition to former Fifa Referee Mr Whilston “Willie” Taylor; former national players, Messrs Altamont “Doc” McKenzie and Roy Welch; Coach Mr Patrick “Jackie” Walters, who has excelled at the schoolboy level; and Dr David McGaw, former Manning Cup player at St George's College and team doctor.

We note and agree with Mr McKenzie that there has to be greater attention paid to youth development for Jamaica's football to sustainably improve as it should.

“It's always good to be honoured yes, but emphasis must be on the youth going forward...” he said, even while praising recent efforts by the leadership of Jamaica's football to help past players.

Of course, it all goes together.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) must work with clubs, schools, parents, communities to ensure young footballers are taken care of in terms of coaching, education, nutrition etc.

How to access the resources to do all it has to do is always a challenge for the leadership of any sport. It's a bigger challenge for president of the JFF Mr Michael Ricketts now, more than ever, because of the impact of COVID-19.

The JFF will need all the support it can get from every possible source.

Also, like Mr McKenzie, we applaud the efforts by the JFF and others to recognise and assist former players and football servants who have fallen on hard times.

As a society, Jamaicans should expect that life will get better despite the current, overhanging gloom. In time, the society will begin to escape the cloud cast by COVID-19.

When that time comes, sport will have to develop comprehensive assistance programmes not just for youth, but for those who have served and are now struggling to survive.


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