Sports

JFF inaugurates new turf, facility at Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 14, 2019

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An exciting exhibition game between former Reggae Boyz stalwarts and the Media Select team marked the official opening of the first of four full-size artificial turfs in Jamaica.

President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Michael Ricketts expressed delight about the historical achievement of a vision coming to fruition a mere six months after breaking ground.

According to Ricketts, the surface of synthetic fibers, made to look like natural grass with rubber crumb infill, situated at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on the grounds of The University of the West Indies, Mona, is the first of many as his administration continues its charge to improve the country's football product.

The new building and facilities of 26 rooms, which is expected to house 52 players and officials, was also opened at a ceremony yesterday.

“I am absolutely over the moon to have achieved this, and I am pretty certain that next year we will be laying another one somewhere. We want to put up at least one per year for the next four years and, of course, we want to have one in each region,” Ricketts noted during the ceremony.

“This will certainly prepare us for international tournaments, because overseas, especially our Under-17s, would encounter this kind of surface. So no longer will they go (to other countries) not having played on an artificial surface before. So this certainly must be a catalyst for our youngsters as they can now prepare on the Astro turf surface.

“I always thought that if you don't have proper surfaces then you are not going to make good players, so this I am sure will give us an opportunity to enhance quality and harness the talent of youngsters with ability and make them into proper players,” he added.

Ricketts pointed out that the accomplishment is a part of a bigger vision to establish a football academy.

“We will eventually phase that (Shortwood location) out, but we will keep it around a little longer just to ensure that there is a smooth transition, because we think this is just the beginning.

“If we get far more lands then we will make a proper academy... so we have made some requests, and we are awaiting some answers, so we can really set up a proper facility,” Ricketts shared.

The project, which was completed by a Costa Rican-based company Stadium Source, was contracted by Fifa to carry out the project, costing approximately US$600,000.

“I must say congratulations to the contractors (as) I think they did a pretty decent job. And I personally, on behalf of the JFF, want to thank them, and certainly for Fifa and I also want to say thanks to board of directors and staff members of JFF, especially to directors [Raymond] Grant and [Peter] Reid, who would have had some expertise in this area, they gave a lot of support to this project,” said Ricketts.

Meanwhile, Stacy Lewis-Daniel, Fifa's senior development manager for Africa and Caribbean region, lauded the JFF on its accomplishment as she pledged the international federation's continued support.

“As you know, the core business of Fifa today is football development, and to develop football to good standards requires good facilities, good coaches and a whole host of things. Fifa has now invested $1.4 billion in support of this management. This is all in line with Fifa's expectation and President Ricketts and his team are doing an excellent job in moving Jamaica's football forward,” she said..


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