President Ricketts notes progress since taking over JFF

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport Editor

Saturday, August 18, 2018

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ST GEORGE'S, Grenada — The Michael Ricketts-led Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) administration has taken pleasure from its early performance following a board retreat in Montego Bay last weekend.

According to Ricketts, who is with the Reggae Boyz on their two-game international friendly tour of the Eastern Caribbean, the JFF hierarchy was very much satisfied with the administration's achievements less than a year in its two-year stint.

“We were pretty satisfied with what we would have achieved and we could make a whole list of the number of things that we did,” beamed Ricketts in an interview with the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“We had workshops, we managed to have got some new sponsors on board, we took an approach that we would be very prudent as it related to our spending, so we actually bought a bus and we would have saved a substantial amount from that... we would have had a number of training seminars, in particular we had one where we trained some coaches who are actually training females and then we had another workshop where we trained 16 coaches to train coaches who were coaching at the 12 and under age groups because we realised that we have been having real problems.

“We did an audit and there were in excess of 1200 persons who were coaching at 12 and under who weren't certified at all. We signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with ReadyTV, we signed an MOU with the University Hospital of the West Indies as it relates to health care for all our national players; We would have re-signed a contract with St Mary Banana Chips, we arranged an MOU with Wisynco, who provide us with rehydration, we would have organised six or seven practice games (for senior men's team).

“One major achievement would be the MOU with the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) where we will be trying to qualify a team for the Olympics. We have partnered with the JOA, they have been giving us some financial support. We have been moving this Olympic team around, so too the senior team, and I was advised by the coach that he has seen at least three youngsters who will be drafted into the Olympic programme. He never knew of these players before; We have also signed a contract with a Costa Rican company to lay synthetic pitch at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre, so in hindsight I think that we might not have done badly,” Ricketts added.

But the former Clarendon Football Association president, who was elected to complete the remaining two years of the late Captain Horace Burrell's tenure, is hoping to accomplish event more.

“Of course, we would have loved to have achieved some more, but there are constraints; finances being the major issue, but we are still searching for sponsors and we want to get more of corporate Jamaica on board. We lost Digicel as a major sponsor, but we are limping along and we certainly want to make an impact and I want to be a humble but effective leader,” he noted, while expressing regard to his board members, who he said have given much support to the cause.

At the weekend retreat, Ricketts said the group, which included Howard McIntosh, Dr Henley Morgan and Angelique Kanhai as facilitators, discussed in length the administration's performance to date, as well as a five-year-plan.

“We came up with a five-year plan that was paired with consultation from our facilitators from CONCACAF and we went through in details what our plans would be going forward. This (plan), as I speak, is currently being refined and a proper document will be circulated, I reckon, in another month or so. It was an extremely vibrant atmosphere that was really conducive to relaxation and productivity ... We looked at what we did over the last 10 months and set up a plan going forward for the next five years. This was a decision taken by the leadership as we thought that instead of just arbitrarily making promises that we would get into office, sit and see what our parent organisations — CFU (Caribbean Football Union), Concacaf and FIFA — have to offer and then we could make an informed plan, so that is exactly what we did. We have been in office for nine months and we thought that it was high time that we sit together, having seen what is there on offer to come up with a plan. Finally, a plan has been prepared.

“Some of these would have been our major achievements for the first nine months or so. We now have a strategic plan in place and this will guide us going forward,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts had spoken about the huge debt his administration inherited and when quizzed about the current state of affairs, he said he was not in a position to provide details, though his information was that for the first time in many years the JFF was on track to end the financial year on the positive side of the ledger.

“I am not in a position to speak on that now, but certainly when we do our financial review we would be in a position, but I was told by the treasurer that we were in line to make a small profit for the first time in many years, so I would want to think that this certainly augurs well for the whole administration of football. It's only nine months but we do have a lot of work to do.

“We have an election next year and we want to ensure that our constituents are comfortable, as we were also able to provide some financial support. We wrote to FIFA and requested some support for the parishes and like we did promise pre-election that we would give as much support to the parishes, so we now actually make an allotment available at the end of each month for the payment of rental for each parish association and for at least one staff member.”

“We also would have had for the first time a FIFA summit under this regime, and we are in negotiations trying to get a Gold Cup game, but I'm pretty certain that we have some challenges as it relates to facilities that we do have, but we are still trying and CONCACAF, I think, will send some representatives to look at the facilities we have. I know what FIFA would want, but we want to try and expose our people as best as possible to high-quality football.

“We also managed to have got a home game for the first time in many years and we got Antigua to play at Sabina Park.

“We were also able to reintroduce the parishes' Under-15 programmes and we were able to acquire sponsorship for the Women's Premier League and the women's senior team is in the process of desperately trying to qualify for the Women's World Cup tournament.”

The last stage of the CFU qualifiers will be staged in Jamaica from August 25 through to September 2 and five countries — Antigua, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, and Jamaica — will compete. All the games will be at the National Stadium. Three of those five teams will advance to the CONCACAF final round stage, from which the World Cup participants will emerge.

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