‘Football a gwaan good!’
PFJL chairman believes the sport on the rise in Jamaica, urges all hands on deck
Despite some high-profile issues that have garnered much attention over the last few months, chairman of Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) Chris Williams is passionately urging Jamaicans not to give up on football, saying it is heading in the right direction.
The highly contentious Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) elections, due to be held last month, were postponed indefinitely following FIFA’s intervention. The JFF also lost the support of former global ambassador Cedella Marley and the Marley Foundation who were critical of the Reggae Girlz programme. There has also been criticism regarding lack of both development and infrastructure in local football.
However, Williams says there is nothing to worry about.
“Don’t throw the sport out with some frustration with the national team or national level. Don’t throw out the sport, me a beg you!” he beseeched during a sit-down interview with the Jamaica Observer on Thursday.
“The sport a gwaan good. The love for the sport is still there and I’d even say, it’s growing. Jamaica’s love affair with football continues.
“We at the ecosystem level, we a work! Primary school a work, prep school a work, ISSA (Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association) a work, PFJL a work, the parishes a work, so the plea to Jamaica is don’t throw out football. Gwaan support it. Speak positively about the sport; I can’t take when people say ‘football inna dis or inna dat’. Football a gwaan good,” he added.
Williams said the work being done at the top-flight level should speak volumes about football on the island.
“We have extended seven different revenue streams now and our clubs are close to being fully profitable. Some are very profitable entities. If you take a look at the clubs that participated in Concacaf competitions, look at Mount Pleasant with the support they’re getting and getting a transfer fee [for Trivante Stewart], so their revenue is going in the right direction. Cavalier, Waterhouse, Arnett [Gardens], etc. [There are] good crowds, good young players in their training programme that when the day come for them to sign those players, dem a guh bruk the bank,” he said.
Williams, who is also the Proven Group CEO, believes that with the strategies and structure being put in place by his PFJL team, Jamaica can compete at a world level similar to track and field.
“I’m very excited and I want Jamaica to feel that excitement and I understand we’re doing it and watch this space. Me want a front page that say Jamaica football a gwaan!”
“Me want everybody smile. We need to see the future [because] me a see the future big. We mash up track and field and we a run track and field so we ago run football today. But we a build it from the ground but have some confidence.
“I’m in the middle of my fourth season. We have already achieved significant progress and I’m saying to Jamaica, we are on the path. It is happening and it will happen. You are going to get the level of structured development and structured execution of the sport of football at a professional level.
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I don’t like the negativism. Yes, we messing up one or two times; missteps were taking place at the national team level, but we are doing the work and it is working. We see the progress, so support us; love it same way and know it is going to happen; we will get there,” he said.
Williams, a Jamaica College old boy, explained why he’s so passionate about wanting football to achieve maximum success.
“As you know, the Manning Cup lives at Jamaica College and over the years, I’ve seen the players fall in terms of their love for the sport that brought them so much glory at high school.
“I can’t accept that. We want the youths to peak at the JPL, not peak at Manning Cup. That’s what drives me. I want to see the smile on the youth dem face when they win the Premier League and jump up and down and jump into the stands,” he said.