Good neighbourliness and good sense

Saturday, May 05, 2018

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Jamaica's Reggae Boyz were always favoured to win their recent away friendly internationals against St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda.

But, as is well known in sport, the proverbial slip on the banana peel is never far away. Indeed, it was just over a month ago that the Jamaicans were held to a 1-1 draw by Antigua and Barbuda at Sabina Park in Kingston.

Also, there may have been some unease within the touring party as a result of recent tension between head coach Mr Theodore Whitmore — who travelled to the eastern Caribbean as an observer rather than coach — and the leadership of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Readers will recall that Sports Minister Ms Olivia Grange felt compelled to intervene to resolve an impasse between the JFF and Mr Whitmore caused by salary and other work-related issues.

In the circumstances, there was probably relief as well as satisfaction in equal measure among coaches and the JFF leadership at the 3-1 and 2-0 victories for the youthful, home-based Jamaicans.

Stand-in coach Mr Jerome Waite deserves praise for getting the job done in circumstances which must have presented some difficulty.

We note the admiring comments from JFF President Mr Michael Ricketts regarding the players, all of whom play locally in the Red Stripe Premier League.

“It's not so much the results, but how the youngsters acquitted themselves. They really represented us very well on and off the field, to be honest,” he explained.

“They were very well-behaved and they represented us well on the field. I am very impressed with how some of the youngsters acclimatised themselves,” Mr Ricketts said.

The president has made it clear that games such as those in the eastern Caribbean recently are intended to keep players in tune for competitions up ahead, including Olympic and World Cup qualifiers.

From a perspective of good neighbourliness, this newspaper is happy that Jamaica has returned to playing friendlies — not just competitive games — against other Caribbean Football Union (CFU) member countries.

Also, such games — in the absence of those who play professionally in North America, Europe and elsewhere — provide priceless experience of overseas conditions and opposition for local-based professionals and semi-pros.

The interests of the national team apart, such exposure can do wonders for individuals in search of a more materially secure future in football.

A drawback, of course, is that there is little or no monetary profit for the JFF from games against so-called lesser teams. But as is well established in every aspect of life, money is not everything.




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