Ricketts, new-found 'Camp Prosperity' and the nation's football

by Mark Bennett

Thursday, August 15, 2019

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. — Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

With the closing of nominations for the election of officers for the Jamaica Football Federation the above quote appears to be quite apt at this time. President Michael Ricketts has received 11 of 13 nominations, which will ensure his reign for the next four years. Also, he will have as his vice-presidents Raymond Anderson, Bruce Gaynor, and Peter Reid. Only the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) and St Ann Football Association refused to endorse his presidency.

Does this overwhelming endorsement of the incumbent reflect the success of his Administration or his genius as a politician?

Given the lack of a singular success story attributed to the direct hand of President Ricketts and his crew over the last two years I would hasten to say the answer is the latter.

Over the last two years, the president and his crew, including General Secretary Dalton Wint, seemingly a dolt, stumbled from one problem to another with the ease of a bumbling trapeze artist trying to put the correct foot forward without breaking his neck in the process. For example, they spent the better part of a year arguing with KSAFA over the qualification to the Red Stripe Premier League play-off by its Super League champion. They botched the travel arrangements of the country's Under-15 team to a CONCACAF tournament. Then, before all that, we had the saga of Coach Theodore Whitmore's resignation reportedly over salary negotiations and the poor handling of the matter by Ricketts and his crew. Also, in the last four months they squandered what little trust and confidence the public had in the management of funds coming under their control. Added to that, the Administration has been operating without a clear outline of a strategic plan.

So what accounts for this massive endorsement by the parish presidents? Remember now, in 2017 both Anderson and Reid were part of a five-man team, which was led by Ambassador Stewart Stephenson, that opposed Ricketts. But this time around, they are safely ensconced in President Ricketts's cheerleading squad. While the cynic among us may opine that they were bought with the office of vice-presidency, I believe they were convinced that the soft-spoken Mike is the man for the moment and that he has a plan that will ensure the 'prosperity' of the Jamaican football programme.

Very few people who have come in contact with Ricketts would deny the humility and sincerity that he exudes. And, even while we have waited two years for his manifesto, we still believe he will publish same. Now he has committed to considering the widening of the pool of voters for the office of presidency, in addition to one million dollars for each parish president... oops, parish association.

I kid you not, Mike is a fantastic political animal. He has charm and funds to share. After all he has stated in an interview that nothing is wrong with him taking care of his supporters. The truth is, I like and applaud Mike for speaking his mind; he just cannot help it. This is unlike the apologist Wayne Thompson, the president of the St Thomas Football Association. He was on radio recently waxing eloquently that the work of the Jamaica Football Federation and a harmonious relationship among directors were hindered significantly by the election of 2017. So, to ensure that peace reigns, I surmised, he joined 'Camp Prosperity'.

Seriously, though, I believe we are in for the greatest time in our football; there is no longer any real opposition to President Ricketts. The directors, all vastly experienced parish presidents, are fully on board. We can now look forward to a structured youth football development programme involving the 'new phenomenon' called academies; a national football database; infrastructural development; improved coaching education; just to name a few things.

But then, I am reminded of the quote, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.

presbent@yahoo.com


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