Burrell's successor must be bold, ready to continue development — Reid

Thursday, July 27, 2017

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The late visionary leader of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell, has set the bar high on many fronts.

But that is not to say that a forthcoming president of the federation cannot take it even higher. The sky will always be the limit.

And former JFF general secretary Horace Reid urged the long-term successor to reference Burrell's positive impact on Jamaica's football development in his own thrust to take the programme up the ladder.

“It's impossible to have any discussion on Jamaica's football without reference to the late Captain Horace Burrell. When he assumed office in 1994, following the FIFA World Cup in the USA, football was a mere recreational sport in Jamaica.

“Yes, we had Premier League, but only as a pastime, which was something the players and coaches would do after their real jobs. Much has changed since.

“Now, more than 90 per cent of the local players and coaches earn a livelihood from the sport. Numerous players have matriculated to leagues all over the globe. Jamaica through the achievements of the Reggae Boyz and flag-bearing performances of our players abroad in their respective clubs, have opened many a door that appeared firmly shut prior,” Reid noted.

He cited the success of local-born and bred Ricardo Gardner, Ricardo Fuller, Claude Davis, Donovan Ricketts and Rodolph Austin as some of those who carried the nation's flag as they strut their stuff in leagues around the world.

“Their excellence and those of others on the world stage has helped breathe interest in our domestic talent. Many of the players from the Reggae Boyz programme have gone on to coaching, forming the core of the new generation of coaches Theodore Whitmore, Warren Barrett, Aaron Lawrence, Claude Davis, Ricardo Gardner, Altimont Butler, Paul Young, Linval Dixon, Fabian Davis, Shavar Thomas, Alex Thomas, Donovan Ricketts, Donald Stewart, Omar Daley, Christopher Dawes and Shawn Sawyers and I could go on. This is excellent for the country's football development,” Reid said.

Burrell, who died in the USA on June 6, after a year-long battle with prostate cancer, was credited for professionalising the operations of the JFF and to lead the island nation to four World Cup qualifications — France 1998 (senior men), New Zealand 1999 (Under-17 men), Argentina 2001 (Under-20 men) and Mexico 2011 (Under-17 men).

“All our local programmes, clubs and even the unregulated academies, owe a debt of gratitude to Captain Burrell's vision, drive and determination.

“It is not by accident that on a regular basis over the past three years in particular, CONMEBOL and South American countries, for instance, have sought to engage the Reggae Boyz in official and friendly competitions.

“Building a reputation as a serious football market requires vision, administrative competence, good negotiating skills and the right domestic programmes that can develop and matriculate talent through the various stages of the programme,” Reid explained.

For those reasons, the CONCACAF director of Caribbean football makes the point that the new president of the JFF will have morale duty to build on the foundation and legacy of Burrell, plus importantly to impose his own vision.

“Whoever becomes president has a responsibility to develop and build on what currently exists. Even make bold changes. But certainly much more needs to be done and some will require radical decisions and lion-hearted courage,” said Reid, who worked closely with Burrell as general secretary for two tenures.

As a key ally and chief administrator to Burrell from 1994 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2012, Reid admitted that he was indebted to the iron-willed football executive for the many lessons learnt and valuable experiences accrued.

“The lessons learnt being alongside Captain are indeed so numerous it would take several pages of your newspaper to elaborate. His decisiveness and his capacity to confront challenges readily stand out.

“However, one that has profoundly impacted me was his ability to comprehend the value of the product (Jamaica's football) and not be prepared to settle for less. He was a master in that arena,” Reid ended.

Until an election is called where 13 parish heads will vote for a president to complete the remainder of Burrell's mandate, St James football executive Bruce Gaynor occupies the office in an interim capacity.

The leading names linked to the candidacy for the JFF presidency are Michael Ricketts, Raymond Anderson, Craig Butler, Ambassador Stewart Stephenson and Danny Beckford. Nomination of candidates closes on Wednesday, August 2, with the election set for Saturday, September 16.

— Sean Williams

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