Voting delegates should put Jamaica's football first

Saturday, September 16, 2017

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Given the various problems, not least the impasse which has delayed the start of the Red Stripe Premier League, interim Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Mr Bruce Gaynor will probably be a happy man at the end of today's voting congress.

Football watchers will be aware that Mr Gaynor has been at the helm of the JFF for the past two months. He was called on to fill the presidential post following the death of the revered Captain Horace Burrell.

Today, 13 parish associations are set to choose between Clarendon FA President Mr Michael Ricketts and former Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) President Ambassador Stewart Stephenson.

The winner will take the reins from Mr Gaynor and serve the two years remaining on the late Captain Burrell's term. The perceived quality of work delivered by today's winner will possibly determine whether that person stays or goes, two years from now.

As the situation now stands, soothing the strife which has so far hindered the start of the Premier League may turn out to be child's play compared to the task ahead of modernising Jamaica's football.

There is urgent need for the JFF to transform its outlook in terms of the approach to domestic football and to national teams — both of which are intricately tied together.

It seems to this newspaper that, to begin with, there has to be an appreciation by the leadership of Jamaica's football that qualification for FIFA World Cup competitions can't be the be-all and end-all.

It seems to us that the days of paying outlandish sums to overseas coaches — highly rated or not — just for the sake of reaching a World Cup should be brought to an end.

Football fans, sponsors, and other business partners, et al, need to recognise that focus must be on the comprehensive medium- to long-term development of football at every level.

If the playing surfaces improve, if the quality of coaching improves, if the club structure improves and is properly brought into the professional realm, so on and so forth, the quality of football will improve.

It's unlikely to happen overnight, but good things come to those who wait.

It seems to this newspaper that with significant improvement of football in communities, schools, and clubs Jamaica will vastly improve its chances of playing senior World Cup finals football — not just a one-off, as 1998 proved to be, but on a sustainable basis.

The candidates are apparently agreed on a number of issues, including the need for radical improvement of playing surfaces; an identifiable style of play; and a uniformed brand, which will make it easier for players — regardless of community team, club, school — to transition from one age group level to the next.

We are told that the candidates differ on how best to 'professionalise' football. Yet both seem to agree that the current amateurish approach is unsustainable. It seems to us that the delegates at today's voting congress will have to decide not so much between policy directions, but more so on which of the two men is better able to effectively lead and get things done.

In making their choice, the delegates must put Jamaica's football first — not personal interest or that of an individual parish/club.




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