Oozing confidence
President Ricketts says work speaks for itself as JFF election looms
Jamaica's Jody Brown (right) challenges Brazil's Antonia during the Women's World Cup Group F football match at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, also known as AAMI Park, in Australia, on August 2, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

PRESIDENT of Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Michael Ricketts argues that his current administration has done more than enough to develop football in the nation to remain in power.

Ricketts is being challenged for the top job by Vice-President Raymond Anderson, with elections scheduled for November.

"I am confident," Ricketts told the Jamaica Observer.

"I think this administration has done its work, and there's no question. I mean, [for] three years we were strangled by COVID but we have done very, very well, with a number of historic events [taking place] under my watch.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts (left) and JFF Vice-President Raymond Anderson during the opening ceremony of the FIFA F4S workshop at Holiday Inn Sun Spree in Rose Hall, St James, on May 29, 2023. (Photo: Paul Reid)

"I'm getting a lot of support and so I am very, very confident. I want to stay humble and I want to stay respectful but I'm indeed very confident," the president further stated.

Since taking office in 2017 Ricketts and his team have had some success in procuring sponsorship for programmes, the federation's kit sponsorship deal with sportswear giant adidas standing out as one of the administration's major commercial achievements to date.

"We, of course, have increased our number of sponsors; we now have a list of sponsors that have come on board in recent times to give support to the football. We have managed to attract probably, and arguably, the biggest sporting apparel manufacturer in the world, adidas.

"It took us three years to have negotiated a contract with adidas and now we would have signed the contract — which is positively impacting our programme," Ricketts said.

RICKETTS...I mean, [for] three years we were strangled by COVID, but we have done very, very well, with a number of historic events [taking place] under my watch.

Ricketts also pointed to infrastructure work at Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence and the provision of what was described as essential support and a platform which facilitated the successes of the Reggae Girlz.

The Reggae Girlz became the first Caribbean team, male or female, to compete in the World Cup knockout stages since Cuba's achievement in 1938, after holding France and Brazil to scoreless results and winning their first World Cup match with a 1-0 victory over Panama.

"Well, of course, infrastructure work at the Captain Burrell centre — I mean, we completed that. We put in an AstroTurf [artificial turf] which has provided service to international countries. Trinidad would have stayed there, Guyana would have stayed there, and they were all singing the praises," said Ricketts.

"Our women would have qualified for two consecutive Fifa Women's World Cup tournaments — this is no ordinary achievement for a small country with very little financial support. But it was the hard work of the Marley Foundation, in partnership with the JFF, that would have allowed us the opportunity of qualifying for two global tournaments.

Colombia's Daniela Arias (left) tackles Jamaica's Khadija Shaw during the 2023 Women's World Cup Round of 16 match at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, in Australia, on August 8, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

"So these are a few of our achievements, but we will be having a launch soon when we will present a document covering all that we have done. I hope that we'll be able to maintain the confidence of our constituents and we'll be back in office," the JFF boss added.

Ricketts pointed out that when he took office six years ago the Reggae Girlz were ranked 119th in the world. After the work done by his administration they are now ranked at 37th.

"This is nothing to scoff at as it's hard work. Elaine Walker-Brown and her team, our team managers, the JFF, the Marley Foundation, the Reggae Girlz Foundation — and I'm not going to forget Ian Forbes and Sherwin Williams who stood with us when women football was unattractive — so a number of parties, a number of agencies, and a number of individuals would have played a major role in us getting where we are at right now," said Ricketts.

As a result of last year's revisions to the JFF's constitution there will be more delegates eligible to vote. This will see an increase in delegates from 13 — previously consisting solely of parish presidents — to 56, comprising more stakeholders.

Each parish association has two votes. Professional Football Jamaica Limited, the Tier Two League, Jamaica Women's Premier League, and the women's Tier Two have four votes each.

There will also be two votes for interest organisations such Jamaica Football Past Players Association, Jamaica Football Coaches Association, Jamaica Intercollegiate Sports Association, and Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association.

BY RUDDY ALLEN Staff reporter ruddya@jamaicaobserver.com

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