PANAMA CITY, Panama (CMC) — England and Liverpool legend John Barnes says the number of Caribbean footballers playing on the world stage is increasing.
However, the Jamaican-born professional coach is insisting that a positive attitude to the sport, particularly in the smaller islands of the region, is desperately needed if the trend is to continue.
The England-based Barnes, in the region as part of a training programme targeting young footballers, says there is no shortage of talent in the Caribbean.
“Indeed, in terms of the talent across the Caribbean and Central America, it is always as I expect it to be — very high,” said Barnes, speaking in Panama yesterday where he kicked off a regional training programme for teenagers.
“There is a whole lot of talent, both physical and technical, but I always stress the importance of the mentality that is required to be successful,” he added.
A number of players, many born to Caribbean parents, currently compete in semi-pro and professional levels in the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as in other leagues around the world.
Barnes says while Caribbean footballers match their international colleagues on talent, their efforts to play on the international stage are being hindered by a lack of the right mental approach to the sport.
“If we look at the emergence of the teams in Panama, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, there are more and more players going on to play on the international stage and I believe that is as a result of the attitudes these players have,” said Barnes who currently works as a commentator and pundit for ESPN and SuperSport.
“If success in football was strictly as a result of ability, then the Argentineans would win everything. It’s all about applying attitude to ability, and the Jamaican athletes competing in the Olympics at the moment are a fine example of doing just that.”
Barnes, who played for England 79 times, pointed at footballers in Asia whom, he said, cannot be compared with players in the Caribbean physically, but who have made international inroads.