Wise man Watson says Boyz are focused


Wise man Watson says Boyz are focused

…relishing elder statesman, vibe master roles in squad

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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LONG BAY, Antigua — Je-Vaughn “Akka” Watson has learnt to skillfully navigate the line between his wisecracking alter ego and the no-nonsense Reggae Boyz midfielder.

He slips between both characters with the ease of an accomplished illusionist.

But he has added a persona of being the elder statesman of the senior Jamaica men's team, so now he is expected to provide wise leadership of a vessel he has been sailing since 2008 when he debuted.

At 36 years old, Watson is the eldest player within the ranks, but his role, instead of dwindling with the growing years, has amazingly taken on more importance.

And he is not along for a free ride, for he remains as fit as a fiddle and a man who earns every minute in a Jamaican shirt.

And by all indication, retirement is nowhere on the horizon.

“In the group I am the guy who keeps everybody together, I am the guy always giving the jokes and the guy bringing the fun, as without the fun it is like we are at the hospital,” the former FC Dallas player told the Jamaica Observer.

“I know I am here to play and every time I go out there I try to do my best, but still I have a role to keep the group together as they look at me as a senior player… I am the person if there is a fire, I try to put it out at soon as possible and I make all the new players coming into the group feel like part of the family,” said the man who hails from Paisley, Clarendon.

Watson, who has some 70 caps under his belt for Jamaica, relishes his roles on and off the field.

“I keep telling the players if you come here and work hard you are going to play, and when I play I do whatever it takes on the field to win, but I also have stuff I have to do off the field as well. But the guys love me as I try to make them feel better if they are down,” he shared.

Watson, who has figured prominently in the Boyz's ongoing Concacaf Nations League (CNL) campaign, managed to put an uplifting twist on the recent hotel cock-up here in Antigua and Barbuda.

He said while the publicity surrounding the poor state of the team's hotel — which forced a relocation to a more appropriate facilities — had the potential to create a distraction with the players, that was not necessarily the case.

“The focus was always there despite the condition that the hotel was in because it's always business as usual [because] there is an aim and a goal to go out there and win the game and top the zone, keep scoring goals and to build confidence,” Watson reasoned.

Jamaica, runaway leaders on 12 points in Group C of League B of the CNL, face Antigua (third on six points) at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound tomorrow at 8:00 pm (7:00 pm Jamaica).

Avoiding a defeat will importantly formalise the Boyz's promotion to League A of Concacaf's new national competition and a spot in Concacaf Gold Cup 2021.

In two training sessions since arriving here on Monday, Watson thought the players applied themselves in a manner befitting professionals.

“The intensity was there… yesterday [Tuesday] in our first training session was light as we were just trying to get our legs back, because we were at the hotel for a good part of the day trying to check out and I think the coaching staff and everybody managed that well.

“And this morning [yesterday] we were at it again and the practice level was good, the vibe was in the camp, and if you know anything about the Jamaica team, you know if the vibe is good, everybody is willing to work, as far as I saw this [yesterday] morning the team is ready and if the game was tonight we would still go out there and get the three points,” he said.

Watson, who also had a productive stint in the MLS with Houston Dynamo, said victory is the name of the game against Antigua tomorrow.

“Winning is the ultimate as that is why we are here, and it doesn't matter if we do so one-nil, two-nil, or three-nil, as we just want to go out there and do what the coaching staff says and to just apply ourselves as you know that this is football and it can go either way.

“But we want to continue winning games and keep pushing up the rankings as this highlights us in Concacaf and beyond and this can only help other players to get the exposure for contracts overseas, and also the rankings will help us to get better practice games in Jamaica,” said the former Sporting Central Academy star.

Watson believes the unity that flourishes in current Boyz squad is the driving force behind the successes so far.

“I think in this group everybody is together and I think that is what is getting us the results, because off the field the guys are together and on the field they are also together and that's how you build bonds and that's what giving us the success,” he ended.

— Sean Williams

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