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Portmore, Waterhouse agree Concacaf club competitions creating growth opportunities

Friday, February 14, 2020

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Two of Jamaica's top football organisations — Portmore United and Waterhouse FC – have agreed that international club competition has been driving their growth and development goals.

Both clubs have experienced competition at the international level, with Portmore preparing for top-level participation in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL).

The Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) champions, however, were recently dethroned as Flow Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship (FCCCC) winners when they were eliminated at the preliminary stage in Kingston recently. In the two-group first-round, Portmore lost 0-4 to 2018 FCCCC champions Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic and then 0-1 to Haiti's Arcahaie.

Waterhouse, meantime, have stayed on course to keep Jamaica's flag flying in the tournament after they progressed to the semi-final round with their 3-0 win over Hait's Don Bosco, after drawing 0-0 with Cibao of the Dominican Republic.

The other semi-finalists are Atletico Pantoja, Arcahaie and Cibao.

President of Waterhouse FC Donovan White says the exposure that Concacaf's club competition platform is driving development across a broad spread at the Drewsland outfit.

“It is extremely important because players, the club, club officials get the opportunity to be exposed to the next level of football, and the deeper you go into these regional tournaments, the more you are exposed to the next level of not only football on the field, but more importantly organisation of the game off the field,” he said.

“It's very important for the development of the game in Jamaica, and also the clubs in Jamaica. The exposure we have had over the last year, playing twice in the Caribbean Club Championship and once in the Scotiabank Concacaf League, is invaluable in the continued development of the club,” White added.

He said when he assumed the reins as president part of his immediate focus was to shape the players into highly equipped individuals with a view to make them marketable outside of Jamaica's borders.

“When I took over in 2014 as president, one of my primary objectives is that we wanted to continue the development of our youngsters to perform at the higher level… the higher level I was referring to at the time was this level [was Concacaf competitions], but we had to go through the growing pains of understanding how to properly develop our players and a team so we could get to this place where we are playing more as a collective unit, and obviously playing the kind of football that would allow us to sustain ourselves at this level,” White reasoned.

He said the FCCCC is a stepping stone in a world of possibilities for clubs in the region wishing to take their game to new heights.

“It's the first of many steps that Concacaf has instituted in its football hierarchy — in our regions you have the FCCCC, then the winner of that automatically qualifies for the SCCL, so the first, second and third place, plus a play-off team goes into the SCL [Scotiabank Concacaf League], which is the tournament we played in August and September of last year…it gives a constant level upgrade of tournament competition that, two or three years ago, did not exist, and that then allows the clubs to plan longer, to build more sustainable structures, it gives our sponsors more opportunities to execute, activate and to leverage their sponsorship of club football.

“It also exposes our players to professional football, and professional structures around football…and as I said before it exposes our managers and administrators to higher levels of organisation of the game and behind the game. It is the same euphoria and ambitions as those clubs preparing for UEFA club competitions,” said White, who serves as Jamaica's director of tourism.

He said Waterhouse's goal is to win the FCCCC and earn automatic qualification to the glitzy SCCL, which would be a first for the club.

“It is absolutely the goal as we have always set very high goals and standards for ourselves…when we played the Concacaf League last year, with a little more planning and exposure, we thought we could have gone all the way or even to the final four, but we didn't get there.

“But the learning that we had from those experiences have put us in good stead, to not only compete in our own Premier League, but to also prepare us for international competition. I feel that team is very confident, the technical team is very confident, very upbeat about the things they learnt over the last several months and that they are going to be ready to play good football when the semi-final round rolls around,” he said.

Meanwhile, Portmore United's General Manager Clive Marshall was at pains in trying to mask the disappointment of being eliminated from the FCCCC, even as the club has the higher grade SCCL to look forward to.

“We're very disappointed with our elimination from the Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship (CCCC). We really wanted to be in the final round and be in a position to defend our title, but alas it was not to be.

“The FCCCC forms an important part of our strategic plan for developing our players and for their exposure to a television audience as the primary mandate for Portmore is the development and exporting of talent, creating opportunities for players to ply their trade in more advanced leagues in Europe and North America in particular,” Marshall added.

The Portmore official says the club has now refocused its emphasis on the SCCL first-round against Mexican giants Cruz Azul in March.

“The SCCL represents an even greater challenge for us, but also a huge opportunity to expose our brand to an even wider audience. We're under no delusion that the task will be easy against Cruz Azul as the Mexican league is the strongest in Concacaf as the records clearly demonstrate by the dominance of the Mexican teams in the SCCL.

“It's a tall mountain indeed, but we're prepared to give it our very best and will fight as hard as we can,” Marshall said.

Defending champions Portmore have had a roller-coaster ride in the RSPL, and are third in the standings with 42 points. Waterhouse lead with 47, followed by Mount Pleasant with 44.

“Our season to date has not been consistent, with highs and lows. However, we're beginning to see improvements since the new year and determined to get it right. We're looking forward to the challenge and are prepared to embrace it with open hands,” Marshall said.