MORE focus should be placed on youth football if Jamaica is to reap the success of advancing to another senior World Cup Finals, according to FIFA Coaching Instructor Jan Poulsen.
"Why have you only made it to the World Cup (in 1998)? Maybe because the feeder line was not very well established or is not established," Poulsen posited while speaking to the Jamaica Observer at yesterday's closing ceremony of the JMMB/JFF/UTech Advanced Level Two Coaching Course at the JFF's St Lucia Crescent headquarters.
The former coach of youth teams in Tanzania, Denmark, Singapore and the senior team in Armenia was honest as he expressed little knowledge of the local youth structure, but said he noted a few things during his week-long stay conducting the coaching clinic here.
"I worked with some of the youths that we have in this course and they lacked for sure some technical ability, some tactical understanding, and because you have speed in Jamaica (we know that) your physical strength is there.
"You are a sporting nation in the right sports so if you can get the other things into the development of the players, you will go far, I think," he said.
Jamaica qualified for two Under-17 World Cup finals, in New Zealand in 1999 and Mexico last year, and the Under-20 World Cup finals in 2001.
"Often you see there is put a lot of resources put in the national team, but the national team is only as good as the individual player and if the player has not been well educated, has not learned the right technique, tactical understanding, then of course you will not have good national team players," Poulsen stated.
Former Sporting Central Academy coach Vassell Reynolds had made a similar judgement while speaking at the Monday Exchange of reporters at the Observer's Beechwood Avenue Headquarters in July.
Reynolds said it was often the more inexperienced and unqualified coaches who seemed most willing to take up duties at the youth level in Jamaica.
"At the youth level we need to have people who are qualified and experienced. That's where it starts. Oftentimes you have coaches complaining that when the youths come to them at age 15-16 they have to be teaching them the basics," Reynolds said then.
"Another thing is that at age 10-14 you shouldn't be too concerned about winning titles, but what you find is that there is so much pressure to win titles at the preparatory and primary level and it takes away from the developing of fundamental skills."
Poulsen agreed: "When you are nine to 12, 13 this is what we call the golden age of learning. You can learn all technique. Everything you can learn, all motor skills. But then if you have coaches focussing on how to play tactical systems, then you waste this golden opportunity to teach them all these technical things.
"It's often too late when you become 16, 17, 18 years old to learn this. It takes a long time, so what is very, very important from the beginning when you are six, seven years old that you get the right coaching; that the coaches know what to do at the various age groups," he said.
"That's why youth coaches (who are) well-educated, knowing what they have to do at the various ages is so important."
Thirty-four coaches received certificates of participation at the closing ceremony. The final exam for the course will take place tomorrow.
Poulsen will conduct a five-day clinic at GC Foster College, starting today.
Graduates of the JMMB/JFF/UTech Advanced Level Two Coaching Course at the JFF headquarters yesterday. At second left is UTech Dean of Faculty of Science and Sports, Dr Colin Gyles; JFF general secretary Horace Reid; JF president Captain Horace Burrell and FIFA Instructor Jan Poulsen. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby)