Editorial

Amateurish approach to domestic football unsustainable

Saturday, September 02, 2017

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The election to decide who replaces the late Captain Horace Burrell as president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is now just over two weeks away.

As football followers will be well aware, head of the Clarendon FA Mr Michael Ricketts and former president of the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) Ambassador Stewart Stephenson are the candidates for the September 16 election.

As if as a reminder that the job of leading Jamaica's football is very difficult we hear of the postponement of the Red Stripe Premier League because of money troubles. Messrs Ricketts and Stephenson will probably be hoping that issue will be resolved, at least partially, before they take office.

It's not all bad news. Coach Mr Theodore Whitmore and the Regage Boyz are off to Canada for a Friendly International against that country today, fresh from their unexpected progression to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July and an away victory over Trinidad and Tobago in that country last month.

The result of today's game is not of great importance in the wider scheme of things, but football watchers will be keenly watching to see if there is progress in the actual quality and style of play.

We note with some satisfaction that both presidential candidates seem concerned not only about results but the style and brand of football presented by the national team. Crucially, there needs to be a uniform style which will make it easier for players to transition from one level to the next.

It's been a talking point for a very long time. Ambassador Stephenson makes the point that “Jamaica doesn't have a philosophy. What is the brand, what is the style we play?”

The ambassador points out that as the situation now stands, coaches have their own individual styles, which means that when players are pulled from various clubs to represent the nation, the pattern often becomes “disjointed” and “unattractive”.

Both candidates seem to agree that there must be an effort to develop a system of play that will be common to all. As proposed by Mr Ricketts there would be a streamlining across parish associations with age-group coaches “relating directly to the technical committee of the JFF so we would have one style of play and hopefully one reggae brand, so to speak.”

We are pleased at the seeming commonality of approach towards fixing football fields. Both candidates seem to have this vexed issue high on their agenda, though resource constraints mean it won't happen overnight. This newspaper has been consistent down the years in pleading for a focused effort to improve the quality of surfaces, without which the true potential of Jamaica's football will not be realised.

News reports suggest that while Mr Ricketts is embracing the proposed franchise system as an important step towards revolutionising the management of local football, Ambassador Stephenson is more cautious.

We are aware that the clubs which have kept Jamaican football afloat for decades, through thick and thin, should have a big say in the transitioning to a modern, professional structure. What is obvious though is that the current amateurish approach to domestic football is unsustainable.

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