'God must have sent this man'

Tony James lauds Peter Gould's ambitious multimillion-dollar undertaking

Senior Staff reporter

Monday, May 14, 2018

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Peter Gould's multimillion-dollar investment in the establishment of Mount Pleasant Academy in St Ann must be an act of God. That's the belief of Tony James, former president of the Jamaica Football Federation.

James, who ruled local football between 1985 and 1992 and has long been advocating for youth development to take Jamaica's football forward, was on hand at the ground-breaking ceremony last Thursday.

“This is just amazing. In a few words it's just wow, breathtaking!” said James.

“When you look at the function, like we said, God must have sent this man here,” he offered gleefully.

“Nobody is willing to invest in rural Jamaica and when you look back at our successes in international football, people don't seem to understand, unless rural and city are working hand in hand, it doesn't work,” James pointed out.

James, who is one of three officials inducted into the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football's (CONCACAF) Hall of Fame in 2009, added: “If we didn't have the 'Tegats' and the 'Tatty Browns' and the 'Twinny Bugs' to put with the talent of Kingston — the Walter Boyds and the Onandi Lowes — it is a mix that is critical and yet nobody wants to invest in rural Jamaica.

“So this is a godsent. We could only hope that we could find two or three more people across the length and breadth of Jamaica to give us some support,” he reiterated.

James, who was the leading goalscorer for Jamaica College (JC) during the 1968 Manning Cup, also served on CONCACAF and Caribbean Football Union (CFU) committees, and he thinks the St Ann Football Association president Danny Beckford is a lucky man.

“The presidents must grudge him for what he has here because, unfortunately, our whole football structure has gone political and have left technical.

“It's a long road for investment — not only the physical financial investment, but you see the principal (Vannie Clarke) and the plans he has, the social investment, to bring it back where we want technically,” said James.

James, who started Los Perfectos FC in Manchester, said any day the island can put those two things together then Jamaica would be featured in international competitions on a regular basis.

“I don't see the Premier League as a structure by itself that can take football forward, [though I give] all credit and respect to the clubs that are struggling and have invested so much of the very little resources they have to make it happen.

“Jamaica's football would have to come to a recognition of the difference between amateur football and professional football, and the whole nation would have to get behind a premier league professional structure if the premier league is to be meaningful,” said James.

Mount Pleasant Academy, which was formed two years ago, are the St Ann champions and only recently defeated Albion Mountain of St Mary in the Eastern Confederation Play-off, qualifying for the four-team JFF Play-offs to reach the Red Stripe Premier League.

“If you could have that, then the Mount Pleasants of this world are very important because rural Jamaica doesn't have a structure at all. Kingston, by its very nature of football population, sponsorships and the capacity to invest the capital has it, the rest of the country doesn't have it. Montego Bay has a little dribbling of it.

“But if you could have a Mount Pleasant as one of the standard bearers long term, if we could find three more Mount Pleasants throughout rural Jamaica, you would be surprised to see what Jamaica's football would do in the medium term five years,” said James.

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