Under-17 Boyz ramp up physical, tactical, mental preparation
Jamaica’s Under-17 men footballers, polishing their boots for participation in the upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifying eliminations, have ramped up their physical, tactical and mental preparation.
Embedded in a full-time residential camp for the past six weeks or so, the Young Boyz have been taken on a holistic regimental ride that their coach believes will serve to whip his World Cup dreamers into battle readiness.
“Since the Cuba games, we have actually intensified our gym programme for the two weeks immediately following those games, but we will actually be backing off the gym work a bit as we will be doing more explosive work than the heavy type of work,” coach Andrew Edwards told the Jamaica Observer.
“Tactically, we have been working on creating some dynamic movements through midfield to the offensive third, while continuing to reinforce and galvanise our defensive organisation and structures. We have also been doing some work on the end product, which is finishing,” the coach added.
Edwards, who is guiding his second cycle of Under-17s, says he is eager to test some of what the group has been focusing on in competitive match situations.
“Going forward, we want to test some of that against our local Premier League teams. as well, we want to incorporate some more deliberate and specific dead ball situations as we have some general ideas we have been working around and we have spent a lot of time trying to make those situations efficient, so we want to do that over the next couple of weeks,” he noted.
Edwards explained that while the residential camp has had its share of teething pains in some areas, it has been fulfilling its broader mandate and the players and backroom staff are better off for it.
“Definitely the residential camp is now at a place where it has taken on full force, as we have been together since the third of February and that would give us about six weeks of camping so far, so that is really a tremendous thing.
“Obviously, being the first time doing it, some situations came about that we didn’t account for in the planning process, but we have been adapting well,” said Edwards, opting not to go into details.
He disclosed that the engagement of a professional to help the lads with the mental aspect of their game has gone well so far.
“A couple of individuals, who I am not so sure would want to be named right now, have stepped forward and have put up money which is providing sports psychological preparation, although we prefer to refer to it as mental skills training.
“So that is provided through their financial resources that allows Natalia Godfrey, who works with Cornwall College, to be doing some work with the team, and so far she has been doing a pretty decent job,” Edwards shared.
Jamaica will compete in Group C of the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Panama, April 21-May 7, in two venues — Estadio Rommel Fernandez and the Estadio Maracana.
In a minefield grouping, the Boyz have powerhouses the USA, Mexico and El Salvador to contend with.
Meanwhile, Group A will be contested by Panama, Honduras, Curacao and Haiti, while Costa Rica, Canada, Cuba and Suriname will battle in Group B.
The two top finishers from each group progress to a two-group (three teams each) Classification Stage, with the top-four teams qualifying for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India October 6-28.
Jamaica have qualified twice for Under-17 World Cups – New Zealand in 1999 and Mexico in 2011.
— Sean Williams