MONTEGO BAY, St James — HEAD coach of the Jamaica national senior team Theodore Whitmore says if football in St James is to regain its place on the national scene, the young players will have to recommit themselves to the sport, instead of blaming others.
"Until the players start to make the commitments and do what it takes to improve their skills and make the transition from being schoolboy starts to senior club players, things will continue to be the same," Whitmore told the Awards and Presentation ceremony of the St James Football Association at the Montego Bay Cricket Club, last Thursday.
"Get your heads in the right place," said Whitmore in a no-holds-barred speech, as he addressed the younger players, pointing out that involvement in get-rich-quick schemes and lack of self-discipline were the main reasons why young players fail to continue improving.
Noting that the parish of St James has the foundation from which to build a solid football programme with "talented football players, good administration, good coaches, well-thinking investors and great football enthusiast," Whitmore said, "it is therefore very disappointing that we are not seeing our talent pool matriculating into national and international programmes".
He argued that critics are quick to point fingers at everyone and everything except the players.
"Too many of our players in this parish are either unwilling or unable to articulate on their football ambitions. Too many are getting into get rich quick schemes. Too many believe the system owes them and there are no or little obligation on their part to invest in their future by being focused and disciplined," he stressed.
The former Violet Kickers and Seba United player pointed to top players taking part in corner leagues, saying that while he was a strong supporter of that level of football which is good for the communities, the players should leave it to those who would benefit more from it.
Until the standard of football is improved, Whitmore added, fans in St James should not expect any players to be called up for national duties.
"It is unfortunate that there is an expectation that because the national coach resides in this parish he will seek to impose his privileged position by simply inviting players from the west just to satisfy the expectation of some. This will not be the approach for St James or any other constituency across the country," he told the gathering.
He exhorted the football administrators in the parish to be "firm on discipline and uncompromising on mediocrity".
"Do not sacrifice what is right and proper for short-term gain, this would be a most certain way to retard long-term growth," Whitmore said.
"We need to develop boys of character and substance and stop idolising flash in the pan performances and young men who have just started to learn their trade. Let's inculcate in them the values of hard work, sacrifice, sow before you reap, and creep before you walk," he urged.