White concerned about financial, emotional impact of COVID on Premier LeagueFriday, February 19, 2021
Waterhouse FC President Donovan White is concerned about the financial and emotional toll that the near one-year-long suspension of the Jamaica Premier League is having on the people who depend directly on the competition to earn a livelihood.
White, who was speaking on local television recently, said that players and staff alike at all the football clubs have been suffering, as they find it impossible to meet their financial obligations due to a lack of earnings or significantly reduced earnings in some cases.
“Quite a few of them have not been able to meet some of those responsibilities, and have had the bad fortune in some instances of having their loan being called by the bank or losing a car, or [to] get the kids what they need to do homeschooling, whether its computer devices or Internet, so it's been a real struggle,” White disclosed.
He noted that other areas of society have been affected by reduced earnings, but pointed to the fact that most industries had returned to life while the footballers continued to suffer.
“It's no different from the rest of the society, mind you, but quite a bit of the society still has a job to go to, but these young men and women have not had that opportunity to go to work for almost twelve months. So, you can imagine that takes a massive toll on anyone, if nothing else, psychologically and emotionally,” he reasoned.
White said that Waterhouse Football Club, in particular, has been doing the best it can under the circumstances, but even so, the challenges remain very difficult to deal with.
“It's been a real struggle. We continue to try to do what we have promised to do, which is to stand by our team and our club as best as we can, as much as we are able to, but it gets to be truly difficult sometimes,” he said.
White highlighted the fact that the pressure on the players have moved from being on the field issues to home issues, which are having a serious emotional toll on them.
“It's not even so much not knowing when you are going to play, it's not knowing how you are going to pay for your next meal, or how you are going to buy your kid something to eat, or make your car payment, or pay your rent.
“These [players], who are professionals at their jobs…are elite athletes, and they make their living from being able to participate in sports and in particular, in this case, football, and then they don't have the opportunity to do that which earns them their living,” White noted.
The Waterhouse president explained the knock-on effect that playing football has on the players' careers, while belabouring the point that they have been denied the opportunity to do so for almost a year.
“Not only do they depend on the Jamaica Premier League for that to happen, but they also depend on the ability to play in the league so that they get an opportunity to impress the national team and possibly to get a call-up and to represent Jamaica. What that represents on the international stage is their ability to be seen by scouts and potentially to move on further afield to more lucrative opportunities,” White said.
“So, it really is a situation where you have young men that are depending on their God-given ability to play football for a living, and they have not been able to do that.
“I say that, juxtapositioned against the pandemic, and yes, in Jamaica we are having community spread, and yes, there are rising cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica, and yes, we don't know what the specifics around our vaccinations are going to be like in the coming months. But the fact is, for the better part of eleven months, most other gainfully employed persons in the society have been able to go to work, ride the bus, ride the taxi, drive, commute; they have been able to go to work for the most part and earn a salary,” he added.
There is still hope, however, that the protocols being put forward for the resumption of football will be accepted by the various ministries, and the sport will return shortly and ease some of the pressure being faced by the footballers right now.
— Dwayne Richards
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