Sport

Changes loom! JFF mull shake-up of football structure

Two-tiered franchise system proposed

By Howard Walker Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 03, 2013    

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The controversial and critical move by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to restructure the island's football programmes that will change football in the country forever, should be presented this month by the local ruling body following careful perusals.

The proposed restructuring programme will basically change from the current multi-league system to a two-tiered franchise-owned system similar to that in the United States of America (USA).

The rationale behind this proposal is that Jamaica does not have sufficient technical and financial resources to play its current level of football efficiently and productively.

Hence, a structured revamping of football is necessary and a full 10-year strategic and technical plan to be presented to the nation this month with the objectives, football philosophy, players' development, and pathway will be outlined.

One option of the restructuring will also see the reduction of the 471 clubs islandwide to just 210, with 30 professional clubs splitting into the two-tiered competitions, which would be 14 for the National Premier League and 16 for the Championship League, leaving 180 amateur or feeder clubs to the franchise teams.

The Jamaica Observer understands that this proposal has been met with stern resistance and has earned the wrath of some parish associations and smaller clubs, which have been in dialogue with the JFF for some time.

The smaller clubs believe that the ongoing consultations with the JFF and the parish associations have excluded them.

A document obtained by the Observer reveals an analysis of Jamaica's football as it is now, and what is needed to take it to the next level.

It shows an average of approximately 250,000 persons playing or involved in the sport weekly. Over 500 certified and registered coaches and over 250 certified and registered referees. The football training centre is about 80 per cent complete.

The document acknowledges that there are grass-roots programmes, established Under-13 programmes, established primary and preparatory school programmes, and established boys' and girls' Under-15 camps in most parishes, plus Under-17 and Under-20 camps in most parishes along with National Under-20 and Under-21 competitions.

There is a proposal for national and parish sponsorships; government partnerships; national philosophy, and a co-ordinated development.

The document recommends, in a nutshell, a modernised and professionalised game with better federations, confederations, parish associations, club officials, clubs, referees, competitions, players, and eventually, football.

The objectives are to ensure that the sport is developed and promoted consistent with FIFA and JFF objectives.

To professionalise and commercialise the sport in all it operations. To improve the quality of the game. This will be achieved by improving the level of administrators, players, facilities, coaches, referees, and competitions.

What is required is a study of the economic and social impact of football on Jamaica, plus assistance Centres of Excellence in each Confederation and Portmore.

An agreement with the Government (including the opposition) on the development, construction and maintenance of the following facilities: National Stadium, Stadium East and Catherine Hall.

It also recommended three additional standard football mini-stadia around the country in the next five years, plus beach and futsal facilities.

A look at the current structure of the Professional Football Association (PFAJ) is also on the table and the franchise distribution and three youth academies per parish allocation.

There is also the thought to discontinue the Confederation football for the 2013/14 season. High school football competition structure should also be restructured.

Football is to become a part of the school curriculum and Inter-Collegiate football to be a fixed part of the football landscape by 2014.

An interesting coaching licensing system for 2013, in which coaches will have to renew every three to five years subject to performance appraisal and subject to a minimum number of games, etc, is also being considered.

There is a proposed introduction of professional referees by 2014 or 2015, which will see full-time employment and an elite panel drawn from every parish.

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