Help our Boyz!
Schäfer urges local coaches, corporate Ja to reach out to U-23s
REGGAE Boyz head coach Winfried Schäfer says the current Under-23 players should naturally progress to form the nucleus of the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying squad.
"The Under-23 players are very important (as) they are the next generation to qualify for the World Cup... they are the future," the German said as he spoke at the Jamaica Observer Sports Club forum recently.
Schäfer said for these players to evolve and achieve self-actualisation, they must have good coaches at the club level guiding their development.
"These players need very good coaches, they need coaches that know all the players... the young players need the best coaches and the coaches need good teachers, as well," he said.
The 64-year-old, who recently agreed in principle to lead Jamaica's Russia 2018 campaign, said Jamaica is replete with talent, but warned that without the proper training and requisite attitude it could all come to nought.
"I see many talents go down and this group of players has the talents which we want to develop. They will have to train and work hard, they need the best training and they also need an idol, which can help these young players to develop more," Schäfer said.
"I know that these players have the talent to reach there (Russia)... it is like a feeling that you have when you sit and talk to the players," he added.
Schäfer, who led Cameroon to the African Cup of Nations title in 2002, said corporate involvement in the programme and in players individually will be a vital component if a repeat appearance at the senior FIFA World Cup is to be achieved.
Jamaica's only qualification to a senior World Cup came in 1998, when they became the first English-speaking Caribbean country to have done so at the France edition.
"Jamaica's number one sport is football and we need sponsorship for the players. Sponsorship is not for me, it is for football, to help develop the sport. These players are the future of our football," Schäfer noted.
In a drive to give the Boyz as many practice matches as possible, the JFF recently announced three more friendly international matches in addition to the glamour match-up with France in Lille on June 8. It was announced on Tuesday that they
will face World Cup-bound Switzerland in Lucerne on May 30, Caribbean rivals Barbados on March 2, and Grenada three days later.
Jamaica Football Federation president Captain Horace Burrell said the games are key in achieving short- and long-term goals.
"We are very happy that we have been able to secure this game for the Boyz, as we as a federation aim to keep the momentum of providing high-quality friendly matches as we prepare for the Caribbean Cup, the Gold Cup and Russia 2018," he said.