-Western Grandstand- The west, the dregs of Jamaica football


June 04, 2016
@Normal:Granville FC's goalkeeper, Zarhia Hutchinson (number 40), moves to recover the ball in his crowded goal area, while Maverley-Hughenden's Phillip Peddie (number 10) looks on during the Jamaica Football Federation Charley's JB Rum Premier League football play-off game at Maverley Complex on Wednesday. Maverley-Hughenden won 1-0.
File Powell

Western Bureau:

For close to a decade, I have been telling Jamaica, through this column, that football in western Jamaica has not only gone to the proverbial dogs, but has become the unsightly dregs that have settled at the bottom of the national football cup.

While it should be obvious to all and sundry that the structure of football in the west is woefully lacking and is fast becoming a major embarrassment, many persons, especially the administrators with dinosaur-like status in St. James, continues to accuse me of fighting against the region's football and trying to turn-off potential sponsors.

I hope the critics have been watching what has been unfolding in the 2016-17 Red Stripe Premier League qualification tournament, which has once again exposed the west to much ridicule. After just three of the six rounds of games in the four team competition, the western champion, Granville FC, has become the first team to be eliminated, tasting defeat in all the games they have played.

If the badly outclassed Granville represents the best of what the west has to offer, outside of current RSPL contenders Montego Bay United FC and FC Reno, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that football is a far cry from when the region ruled supreme in the 1980s and 1990s with some of the biggest names in local football.

The truth is that during the era in which the west was the undisputed best, we had administrators and investors who really love sports and wanted the region to be a shining example to all Jamaica.

current administrators

Men such as the late Gene Grey, Westmore Thomas, Leroy 'Duggo' Dunkley and Frank 'Bim Williams were never afraid to dip into their pockets to ensure that the football was kept alive and vibrant.

Unfortunately, things have changed drastically over the years. Instead of putting in, our current administrators are seemingly more concerned about what they can get out of the sport. As a consequence, while the football continues to crumble, their focus appears to be on picking up crumbs rather than trying to make their own bread.

Had it not been for the ambitious Orville Powell, who appears to be the only top-flight administrator in the region with a working brain, based on his exploits at Montego Bay United, the region would not have had anything of substance to celebrate in close to two decades.

While it would be unfair not to acknowledge the good work Everton Tomlinson, the president of the Westmoreland FA, has been doing in his home parish in seeking to transform the FA's Llandilo facility into a modern sports complex, we can't totally absolve it based on lack of progress on the playing field.

Westmoreland teams are also participating in the farcical Western Super League, from which Granville emerged as western champions.

To compound the situation, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), which should have moved in to fill the slot of the men mentioned earlier, is now operating like an out of control train speeding along a treacherous track.

Instead of standing up to the JFF and demanding some of the funds that the federation is getting from FIFA to develop Jamaica's football, most of the parish administrators are behaving like timid puppies, too scared to speak up lest they be chastised or in the case of some parishes, lose their Captain's Bakery sponsorship.

We better hope and pray that Orville Powell does not allow himself to become frustrated by the antics of the JFF and walk away from MBU because, should that happen, it would be the end of the road for the west.

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