To prepare poorly is to prepare to fail
Marcel Gayle (Photo: Dwayne Richards)

The 1-0 victory over hosts Mexico in Monterrey on Monday night in the Concacaf Women's Championship underlines what we already know; that if the various off-the-field difficulties can be resolved, there is a bright future for Jamaica's football.

As our reporter, Mr Howard Walker, pointed out, the Reggae Girlz, seeking a second-straight spot at the Fifa World Cup, could have won by a wider margin but for missed chances including a skied penalty kick.

And while the Mexicans were more than a match in terms of ball possession, the Jamaicans held them at bay in impressive fashion.

Crucially, the Reggae Girlz were considerably aided by a two-week preparation camp in high-altitude Denver, Colorado, supervised by Coach Mr Lorne Donaldson — a national coach a few years back — who only regained the reins recently after Mr Vin Blaine resigned, following a very public falling out with senior players.

Mr Donaldson was able to mobilise the training camp with the help of the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation and Cedella Marley's Football is Freedom initiative. It's worthy of note that Ms Marley has been a consistent supporter of Jamaica's women's football down the years.

Pivotal though it was, the training camp in Colorado wasn't perfect. Players and coaching staff could have done with more time. Also, there were no competitive games under the new coaching staff. Yet, as player Ms Chinyelu Asher told this newspaper earlier this week: "Hosting camp in Colorado, with the altitude training and being in a more secluded area to really focus on each other and team building, was super beneficial..."

The Reggae Girlz will face back-to-back world champions United States today and Haiti on Monday, knowing that while they have started well, there is still much work to be done to ensure a place at the World Cup next year.

But they also know that even should things go wrong from here, preparation can't be blamed.

It was a different story for the Under-20 Reggae Boyz at a Concacaf qualifying tournament in Honduras late last month. Against the odds, they came within one win of qualifying for the age-group World Cup to be held in Indonesia next year.

A mix of Jamaican-born and overseas-based players, blessed with considerable individual talent, the young Reggae Boyz lacked cohesion at the best of times because of inadequate preparation.

Even while showing sympathy for the much-under-fire Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), the Under-20 Coach Mr Marcel Gayle said, "...more emphasis needs to be placed on getting things [preparation] done in a timely manner..."

Others were much more forthright: "I think a grave injustice was done to the players ... [because] the preparation was poor," former National Youth Coach Mr Davion Ferguson told the Jamaica Observer.

"Players were constantly being given to the coach, even days before the tournament. He didn't know his best 11 heading into the tournament. ...The players looked lost, but you can't blame them," he said.

We know it's not easy, given the various management and financial challenges, but the JFF needs to speedily get its act together if it is to properly serve its players and the game of football.

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