KINGSTON, Jamaica – Accusing the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) of a lacklustre approach to the development of the sport locally, veteran administrator Carvel Stewart says the tenure of recently appointed national senior men’s coach Heimir Hallgrímsson would be a failure if it doesn’t involve the creation of grassroots programmes.
Hallgrímsson signed a four-year contract with the JFF and part of his mandate, along with qualifying the Reggae Boyz for the 2026 Fifa World Cup, is to help develop football in the country.
Still, Stewart expressed skepticism that the Icelander’s appointment will sufficiently address the issue.
“Well, the hiring of a coach, which has been observed, has made no difference to the incompetence shown by the administration,” he told OBSERVER ONLINE.
“So, that will not change. What they are hoping to do is that a coach has some success as with the case of the Reggae Girlz, and people will overlook the incompetence. I think they regard our people as nine-day wonder people.”
“And so, as soon as there’s a success, they can trumpet it and beat their chest,” he added.
Stewart argued that the problem is underscored by the administration’s aggressive recruitment of English-born players for the national senior team.
“There is no underpinning of the Jamaican football team. The same way they think that going for people born and grown in the English system, which I call them retired English men, because they have retired from trying to play for England and Jamaica is the next option. This is the case for the majority, not everybody,” he said.
“So, there is no effort to develop the players in a systematic way, so that we move them from the four, five-year-old all the way up to being able to compete at the international level.”
He said also, that while efforts have been made at the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) level to help local based players grow their craft, the clubs are grossly underfinanced.
“We have no development programme in Jamaica, except for the efforts that are made by the local clubs, which are often criticised because we’re all underfinanced,” he said.
The upshot is that the quality and level of football displayed have often been chastised by on-lookers.
“They are comparing what we do with the little money we have, with what they see on television,” Stewart said.
In Europe, elite football academies have been the driving force for young players to hone and develop their skills and talents in the sport, and have been the foundation for world renowned footballers such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to name a few.
In the meantime, newly hired coach Hallgrimsson’s began his tenure Tuesday on a losing note as the Reggae Boyz suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Argentina in a friendly international match at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Six out of the 11 players who started the game for Jamaica were born in England.