The power of the Jamaican spirit

Saturday, July 22, 2017

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All things considered, it seems fair to say that though the then Reggae Boyz team — packed with pros from the British leagues — went all the way to the final two years ago, the current squad started the ongoing CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States as virtual 'no hopers'.

Young, inexperienced, and with a significant number of players having been recently part of the team which was defeated by Curaçao in the final of the Caribbean Cup, not many gave them a chance. Although, to be fair, we do recall that national coach Mr Theodore Whitmore voiced ambitions of a knockout spot.

Here we are two weeks later with Jamaica's Reggae Boyz in the final four of the 12-team competition. They are set to face defending champions Mexico, their conquerors two years ago, in Sunday's semi-final.

Truthfully, in their four games thus far — a 2-0 triumph over their Caribbean conquerors Curaçao, a 0-0 draw with Mexico, a 1-1 draw with El Salvador which were all in the Group stage, and Thursday night's quarter-final 2-1 triumph over Canada — the Reggae Boyz have not played great football.

The critics who say the Jamaicans have often been lacking in coordination and creativity and have given the ball away too easily are on target.

Yet, the Jamaicans have got the job done, thanks largely to outstanding goalkeeping by their Captain Mr Andre Blake, solid work by their back line, the stabilising influence of midfielders led by Mr Je'Vaughn Watson and the industry of frontmen such as Messrs Darren Mattocks and Romario Williams.

Most of all perhaps, the Reggae Boyz have benefited from the Jamaican fighting spirit — that proud back-to-the-wall, never-say-die attitude which dates back many generations.

Encouragingly, the Jamaicans have shown tactical improvement in every game so far.

The pundits may well think the Reggae Boyz have just about gone as far as they can. But you write off the Jamaican spirit at your own peril.

Regardless of what happens from here, this newspaper thinks it is appropriate to thank the players and their support staff, led by Mr Whitmore, for representing their country well at the Gold Cup.

The performance must be a huge boost for the administrators of Jamaica's football — the Jamaica Football Federation — now in the process of rearranging themselves, following the passing of the visionary, larger-than-life Captain Horace Burrell.

We are pleased by what we are hearing from interim president, Mr Bruce Gaynor. He has only two months until a voting congress in September to elect the long-term successor to Captain Burrell, but Mr Gaynor makes sense when he speaks of the need for modern football fields to nurture young talent; of the need to properly support clubs and parishes in the development of young talent; and the 'professionalising' of the sport through a franchise system.

There is much to be done if Jamaicans are to modernise and improve their football. This newspaper believes that with the harnessing of that never-say-die Jamaican spirit it can be done.




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