DEEP BAY, Antigua — When Jamaican team officials were yesterday forced to assemble a goal when they arrived for training at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium it was seen as an indication that organisation here is not quite spot on.
The facility, which will see defending champions the Reggae Boyz opening their account at the CFU Caribbean Champiosnhip, was properly marked out for this evening’s game. But where were the goalposts? That was the question on everybody’s lips.
After a search, the goal posts were discovered at a corner of the property in a disassembled state. But since the show must go on irrespective, technical director Walter Gama, masseur Pablo Camargo, manager Roy Simpson and others trudged with the heap of metal to its location before beginning to put it all together.
When done, the Jamaicans' training session was already considerably late to the point that Martinique, who were scheduled to train after them, arrived for their session to see their group rivals in the heat of preparation.
Instead of chasing the Jamaicans out of the park, the Martinique players commenced their session using one half of the field.
The apparent organisational naivety of the small islands of the Caribbean came as no surprise, especially to team manager Simpson. Instead of being angry, he was compassionate to a point.
“We knew what we were going to be up against… we know we are the leaders in organising tournaments in the CFU, and we would expect everybody to take a page out of our book, but it doesn’t happen that way.
“As the world governing body FIFA says, it’s for the good of the game, and that is something that we believe in. Those things were not in place but we believe that Antigua is a part of the union, and we believe that when our members fall down we should support them and that’s what we did,” he said.
Still, he thought some simple things should have been better handled. “The challenge is that we expected better organisation on the ground, but as I said before that you expect certain things when you come down to the islands, but we won’t knock them too hard for that and hope that going forward everything will be on track,” he told reporters here.
Simpson said despite “the issues”, his players intend to keep their focus as they hunt the defence of their title.
“But we are focused and we know what we have to do here… we were hoping that organisation would have been much better, but as I have said, we anticipated that and it won’t distract us from anything.”
On the team’s arrival at the Royal Grand Antiguan Resort on Thursday afternoon, there were no solid meals ready as the group arrived between the hotel’s meal times.
In addition it’s believed that because the team's liaison could not be contacted in time to pick up midfielder Lamar Nelson on his arrival at the VC Bird International Airport yesterday (Friday), it contributed to the player being temporarily detained by immigration authorities as it’s a requirement for a citizen of the island to receive a visitor.
— Sean Williams