Positive signs for new JFF head

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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New president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Mr Michael Ricketts knows from long, hard experience that administration of football — or any other sport for that matter — is never easy. Yet he would have been comforted by the positive signs, even as he took office.

To begin with, he would have been pleased that the issues which delayed the start of the Red Stripe Premier League have apparently been cleared up. Mr Ricketts has himself pledged to do all in his power to ensure that such an impasse does not recur.

The new president would have been very relieved to hear from JFF Treasurer Mr Garfield Sinclair that, while the organisation remains mired in crippling debt worth $265 million, he is optimistic about its financial future.

Mr Sinclair, who heads the Caribbean arm of telecommunications giant FLOW, was quoted as telling journalists recently that, “I'm extremely confident and, in fact, enthusiastic about the fortunes of the JFF going forward.”

He made the point while contextualising that, “We (JFF) have to continue to improve technically, [and] we have huge liabilities we are going to have to retire.”

We note Mr Sinclair's commitment to lead the JFF out of a position of “recurring negative net worth and negative cash flow”.

Against a backdrop of long-standing complaints about inadequate accountability, we note that three audited reports — covering 2014, 2015 and 2016 — were tabled and approved during the JFF's annual general meeting.

Mr Ricketts will no doubt be pleased that Mr Sinclair — a man very qualified to deal with such matters — is in charge of the JFF's finances.

The new JFF head, and indeed all football administrators, would have relished word from Ms Michelle Cunningham, assistant brand manager of Red Stripe, title sponsors of the Premier League, regarding plans for field, player and club development.

Ms Cunningham says her company wants to encourage other companies to join the development of football by adopting a field and a club to ensure growth and development. Readers will be well aware that this newspaper has consistently argued in this space for the private sector to join hands in improving football playing surfaces.

And if we are to believe former Prime Minister Mr Edward Seaga, who chairs the Premier League Clubs Association and is president of the Tivoli Gardens Football Club, sustainably improving football fields may not be as expensive as some of us have long imagined.

Mr Seaga tells us that, for a price of $2 million, “I have taken the lead by uprooting the entire field at Tivoli Gardens, from the soil right down to the base; and we have replaced it with new soil, sand, and an irrigation system with green grass growing very happily.”

The former prime minister says to others who may have thought such a process would be very expensive, “Believe me, it is not; between $1 million and $2 million can do the job.”

All of the above won't make Mr Ricketts's job as head of Jamaica's football easy. However, if he can pull stakeholders together and keep them focused, his tenure could turn out to be a highly rewarding and enjoyable experience.

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