Harriott, Richie relishing stint with Reggae Boyz

Senior sport reporter

Friday, August 25, 2017

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Reggae Boyz defenders Rosario Harriott and Ladale Richie are pleased with the opportunity provided to them under the new direction of Jamaica football's technical hierarchy.

The 27-year-old Harriott and Richie, 28, were set to be Jamaica's central defensive pairing for last evening's friendly international versus hosts Trinidad and Tobago at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Their inclusion in the starting team is part of Head Coach Theodore Whitmore's drive to promote development of locally-bred players since taking over from German Winfried Schaefer less than a year ago. During Schaefer's tenure and even before then, Jamaica's teams for competitive tournaments or for high-profile games usually comprised a multitude of overseas-bred players with ancestral links.

“It's good that local players are getting more opportunity because two to three years ago there were maybe three or four local players, so this is a good look for the development of the [local premier] league,” Harriott, who plays for Harbour View FC, told the Jamaica Observer during an interview at the team's hotel in Port of Spain yesterday.

“Sometimes players had their heads down as it comes on to the national team because they were saying they were not going to get called; it's just [players from] overseas. Now they have something to play for,” added the former Dinthill Technical student.

To craft a rebuilding process with local-based players at its core means that inexperience abounds.

Harriott and Richie — two of the more seasoned players in this 18-member squad — have less than 20 national senior caps between them.

Richie, a key player for Montego Bay United in the top-flight premier league, welcomes each chance to don the national colours.

“I'm ready for every opportunity that coach gives me. It's an honour for every player to represent his country, and that's always been my dream,” he said.

“I think a game like this is a good opportunity for local guys and Coach Whitmore has always given players from home more chances since he took over. I'm one of the senior members of this squad and there are some young players. But the guys are coping well and we follow his instructions and do what's necessary,” Richie, who attended Cedric Titus High in Trelawny, explained.

Richie was called on a few times to fill in at central midfield as Jamaica finished second to hosts United States at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this summer.

He is unfazed despite having multiple roles, and does not expect too much turbulence when teamed with Harriott in central defence.

“In the Gold Cup I played central midfield and I gave it my all. It's no problem to play either, because once you're a football player you're supposed to adapt to almost any position the coach gives you. It was a great honour and one of the best moments in my career to be playing in the Gold Cup,” he said.

“Harriott has played central defence and wing back at his club and I've played central defence and central midfield at my club, so to adapt there is no problem. We usually cover each other well, so we don't have too many problems.

Harriott, who was an unused substitute during the Gold Cup, is just anxious to get more playing time under his belt.

“I try to do my best every time I go on the pitch — no matter the situation — I just have to go out and perform. I'm pretty comfortable [alongside Richie] because we play together in training, and in local camps we have paired up.

“I just have to go out there and get the job done. It's difficult [being on the substitutes bench] at times, but you have to be humble and hold the faith and be happy for who are playing. We are one team, so you just have to support each player,” Harriott ended.

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