Former Jamaica player Altamont 'Doc' McKenzie calls for focus on youth development


Former Jamaica player Altamont 'Doc' McKenzie calls for focus on youth development

Friday, October 23, 2020

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Five men who have made significant contributions to the sport of football in Jamaica were honoured on Monday for their service to the sport by Masters & Celebrities Group led by Clive “Busy” Campbell at the annual ceremony for the Bell/Ziadie Memorial Football festival.

Despite the fact that the football festival could not be held, Campbell still ensured that a ceremony was held to honour the men, something that is customary each year.

The honorees on Heroes' Day were former Fifa referee Whilston “Willie” Taylor, former national players Altamont “Doc” McKenzie and Roy Welch, legendary Youth Coach Patrick “Jackie” Walters and Dr David McGaw, former Manning Cup player at St George's College and team doctor.

The Bell/Ziadie Memorial Football festival has been held each year since 1987 to honour the memory of Jackie Bell and Dennis Ziadie, who both died in a motor vehicle accident in 1986 while attending the World Cup in Mexico.

President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Michael Ricketts, who spoke at the presentation ceremony, recalled memories of the fateful crash while underlying the important role that football plays in the country.

“I remember I was at a gas station in May Pen when it happened; I remember vividly when I heard it on the news and I was totally devastated because I grew up having a connection with Santos, so I knew Jackie Bell well.

“Jackie Bell had a special relationship with Vere Technical, an institution that I also had a relationship with even though I went to Glenmuir. Football ought to be and it has been that instrument that brings people and bring communities together,” he said.

Kingston And St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) President Wayne Shaw lauded Campbell for his commitment to honour servants of football and encouraged him to continue what he has been doing for such a long time.

“Busy, 33 years, continues keeping the memory of Dennis Ziadie and Jackie Bell alive, continues to honour some of our past national players, administrators, referees. It's good to honour people when they are alive.

“I have heard about Doc McKenzie and some of the people who are being honoured today, but I have a special affiliation with one — Mr Roy Welch, who is one of my other football fathers, like Carlton Dennis. Mr Welch was the coach of Scotiabank for years and he is still part of the family,” recalled Shaw.

McKenzie represented Calabar High school in the Manning Cup from 1968 to 1970 and then Jamaica from 1978 to 80. He is a former coach and also played on a winning Pembroke Hall Minor League team in the 1960s.

While happy to be honoured, McKenzie was adamant that the focus needed to be placed on youth development for the sport to move forward in the country.

“It's always good to be honoured yes, but emphasis must be on the youth going forward and the commitment by the president of the JFF in helping past players is a good move, but we need to get the proper funding for the national programme, not just the senior national team,” he insisted.

“If you don't have proper youth development, you will have a problem at the senior level. Certain things must be right and that's where you start and I don't think enough emphasis is placed on youth development.

“We need to put things in place. I understand the restriction which is finances, but we must deal with the youth. If you look at the Americans, for instance, individually they are not as skillful as us, but they have youth programmes that get you playing into a team formation from very early. So, we look more fancy than they do, but how many times have we beaten them,” he said.

— Dwayne Richards

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