WHEN Mexican referee Mario Antonio Rodriques Moreno called time to end the match (Jamaica vs USA) at approximately 9:00 pm last Friday, history was created.
This was no mean feat; it was the first victory for Jamaica's senior men (The Reggae Boyz) over their more accomplished North American rivals. That it came in our 50th year of Independence is absolutely fitting and awesome.
The fact that it took us 21 attempts to finally taste victory against the USA is noteworthy. Over those 21 matches Jamaica were led into battle by both local and foreign coaches. Yet none before Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore was able to get it right.
There are many who, even now, remain doubtful, hesitant and pessimistic about our football programme being led by one of our own.
In the first Rene Simoes era 1994-2000, corporate sponsorship flowed toward the national programme like a precipitous waterfall. Now, despite the obvious progress, successes and possibilities, the programme is thirsty for sponsorship to propel it forward toward Rio 2014.
It is my fervent hope that this latest victory would have served to soften the resistance toward local coaches, and 'Tappa' in particular.
'Tappa', you are a pioneer, a trailblazer who continues, despite the endless criticisms, to inspire and motivate young local coaches as myself.
Much credit and respect is hereby also given to George Thompson, Geoffrey Maxwell, Carl Brown, Wendell Downswell and the others before 'Tappa' who prepared the way for us to follow.
Of all our local coaches you, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, stand out; you bring something unique to the table. Having played the game at the highest level professionally in Europe and represented the country over 100 times and, of course, on the biggest stage, the World Cup (1998), you bring experiences not even Rene Simoes had. The experience of playing professionally and in a World Cup is something unique to you among Jamaican coaches, past and present. This is quite discernible in the way you conduct your training sessions and in the comments you make at times regarding team selection and preparation.
Full and sincere congratulations are quite in order, my friend, 'Tappa'. You are fully deserving of all the plaudits you will obviously receive.
Be not fooled, my friend. The criticisms will not cease; the doubters will not all suddenly become believers, but your work is your testament and there are many believers in the dream you follow.
Amidst the joy be mindful that success is all about what happens next. So remain steadfast and even more purposeful in pursuit of our dream, World Cup 2014.
Thank you, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, for what you have already accomplished for yourself and local coaches. Best wishes for the remainder of the Mission to Rio campaign and beyond.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Andrew Edwards is an assistant coach of the National Under-20 squad and the current head coach of daCosta Cup team Munro College.