Sport

Doom averted!

Reid says Boyz qualification saved JFF agenda

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Friday, October 19, 2012    

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HORACE Reid, who had predicted possible gloom should Jamaica's Reggae Boyz fail to advance to the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign, wore a broad smile on Tuesday night.

His facial expression told the story. No need for words. The Boyz had succeeded.

Pressed for comment, the outgoing general secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) said the team's 4-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda at the National Stadium not only ensured that they progressed to the Final Six phase of the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualification play-offs, but also significantly resuscitated the national programme.

"It's a positive outlook coming out of this phase now. We have managed over the past several years to resurrect the brand and to reposition the brand and, of course, to recognise that in our region we are competing against financial giants — countries that have large football resources in facilities, infrastructure; and it's always going to be difficult to compete against those kinds of resources.

"Having now gone to the next stage, we have the kind of impetus, not only for the senior Reggae Boyz, but the other eight teams," said Reid, who takes up his new post as CONCACAF competitions director on November 1, ending a 16-year association with the JFF.

With the progression to the final round, the first since the 2002 campaign, the respected football administrator foresees the potential for greater corporate rally around the 'Mission to Rio' campaign.

"I am very happy for the programme and think that we now have the impetus... to get greater corporate support. I'm really appealing for that because the brand is strong, and when you look at even the game that we lost against Guatemala and the game we played here against the USA, and what we did tonight, (Tuesday), you can see that we are growing, our quality is improving, but still a work in progress," said Reid, who

also serves on FIFA Beach Soccer Committee.

Failure to advance would have had devastating consequences for the national programme, which, in Reid's estimation, could have set

back the programme "some 10 years".

"The fall-out would have been on several fronts as we are in a fickle environment for public support as the sport is still result-driven. But we have a hardcore group of fans who, no matter what, will come to the games and will continue to support and we have to thank them, but we will have to try to build on that to increase those numbers. For sure, we would have seen a significant drop in that enthusiasm.

"Plus, the brand would not be so appealing to corporate Jamaica and, therefore, we wouldn't be that optimistic to get that kind of financial support that is very important going forward," Reid argued.

"It doesn't matter the plans you have on paper; it's difficult to pursue a World Cup campaign without money. If we didn't make it to the next round it would have been difficult to think about how you are going to support the junior programmes.

"But that didn't happen, and we give God thanks for that, as I think He is with the programme," Reid noted.

On a personal note, Reid said early elimination would be a blow for him and the hard working staff of the JFF and those within the broader football structure.

"It would have been a major disappointment for me because I recognise the sacrifice that many persons have made in the last several months, or even years, in resurrecting the brand; so from that standpoint, it would have been disappointing for me.

"But I've never seen the programme about me; for me, it's a football product and there are different parts that go into making the product and everybody plays their part," he stated.

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