Future of Jamaica's goalkeeping in safe hands, says Barrett

Friday, August 25, 2017

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Warren 'Boopie' Barrett, the former national goalkeeping ace, believes the future is bright for Jamaica, evidenced by the talented local custodians coming through the ranks.

Barrett, goalkeeping coach for the Jamaica senior team since 2009, is with the Reggae Boyz as they prepared to take on hosts Trinidad and Tobago in yesterday evening's friendly international at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

In the absence of the United States-based, indisputable number one goalkeeper Andre Blake, Portmore United's Shaven Paul was set to stand between the sticks with University of the West Indies FC's Amal Knight starting on the bench.

“Thankfully, we have been blessed with a number of outstanding goalkeepers over the last seven or eight years,” Barrett told the Jamaica Observer.

“We had Duwayne Kerr and Ryan Thompson, and then we have Andre Blake who is now our number one. And as most people know, he had an outstanding tournament in the just concluded CONCACAF Gold Cup, so that's an area that we haven't had any major issues with. All the goalkeepers that we have called upon for different games have done well. We have high regard and high confidence in their abilities,” Barrett continued.

He said Paul and Knight are the latest on the conveyor belt – a contrast to the 1990s when the options were far more limited.

“We have seen good goalkeepers in the local premier league that we have invited to camp and it's just a matter of time before they get the opportunity to represent their country.

“This is the chance for Shaven-Sean Paul and Amal Knight, the two goalkeepers that are here. They have been two of the most consistent we have in the island over the last two years and I think it's a great opportunity for them to stake a claim, if not for the number one shirt, definitely to make themselves a regular part of the team.

“There is more depth right now, because if I can recall, back then you had myself, Aaron Lawrence and Donovan Ricketts, who were really the three outstanding goalkeepers we had in the mid-to-late 1990s. Now you have [Damion] Hyatt, who went to the Gold Cup as the third goalkeeper there, as well as Paul and Knight and a number of other goalkeepers we have looked at,” the France 1998 World Cup veteran explained.

But Barrett, who made his senior debut in 1990 before becoming a regular between 1992 and 2000, said there is no room for complacency.

“While we have been well served we also don't want to take things for granted. A footballer's life [career] is very short because there are injuries or a player might want to quit at an early age.

“It's important that we still seek to develop top-quality goalkeepers. We are on a rebuilding process and hopefully we have a number of friendly games between now and when qualification starts for the 2022 World Cup. The more choices we have in that position the better it will be for the technical staff and for the country,” the former goalkeeping standout noted.

“The thing is for them to get the opportunity to play international games, to feel that pressure situation and the game is a lot faster, so decision-making has to be quicker. You don't get to make some mistakes you would make at the club level and get away with it. At the international level you will be punished,” Barrett stressed.

He told the Observer that the local schoolboy competitions have unearthed considerable talent, but he cautioned that coaches, particularly at the youth level, are needed to hone their development.

“From last season I've seen a few goalkeepers who I think, if they continue to develop, can be quite outstanding in the future. One of the negative points is that we don't have a lot of goalkeeper coaches in Jamaica. A lot of the times the goalkeepers just keep off ability and they don't really go through the necessary tactical and technical work to get to where they are.

“It's something we can work on and it will be up to the JFF (Jamaica Football Federation), as well, to incorporate goalkeeping coaches into the programmes. I think we have two or three other goalkeeping coaches, who I've spoken to personally, who are interested in working with the federation. That [recruiting them] can only augur well for the country,” Barrett said.

— Sanjay Myers

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