Fans of the Reggae Boyz one morning woke up to the news that UK-based striker Marlon King and another player were suspended for two matches, having reportedly broken a team curfew. Rule broken, punishment meted out, that’s fine; the wisdom behind the particular rule being another matter altogether.
The existence of uniformly and consistently applied disciplinary procedures and codes is of undisputed value to any group, as experience has shown that chaos and anarchy are normally associated with a “free for all” scenario, in which wider team objectives easily and often become a casualty. This would also apply to the national football programme.
It seems to be the case that Marlon King, having long served the reported two-match ban, has been hung out to dry, in what appears to be the classic case of the punishment far exceeding the crime. This has been a source of genuine distress for many local football aficionados, who, like myself, are struggling to rationalise the apparent cold shoulder extended to the clinical Birmingham City striker (who scored a hat-trick for his club this week), against the background of less than impressive goal mouth action by our strikers in recent times.
There are a few things to be said about discipline. First, it is not an end in itself, but a means to an end, the purpose being to restore the offender to a position of good standing. Second, modern and civil disciplinary systems are progressive, and punishment becomes more severe as behaviour deteriorates further or is repeated. The philosophy behind discipline therefore suggests a belief in people as a first principle, acknowledging that corrective action is often needed to maintain good order, and effect transformation in behaviour and conduct. And this is how wise managers have been able to get the best out of players like Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney, Romario, Diego Maradona, and the list goes on. It therefore does not take rocket science to appreciate that not all violators are irredeemable.
I therefore urge the Jamaica Football Federation not to close the door on arguably one of our most naturally gifted strikers ever, and seek to re-engage him as we push towards Brazil 2014. If there are other factors that stand in the way of his re-engagement, there are options available by way of counselling, mentoring, negotiating, and other time-proven interventions. As a human resource management practitioner and negotiator of many years, if push comes to shove, I would readily offer my services in these areas pro bono, because I sense that Jamaica is on its way to another World Cup campaign, and a restored and compliant Marlon King could be a trump card in this regard.
Liguanea PO, St Andrew