Inept JFF crippling women’s football
The steady decline in the appeal of national football has seemingly caught up and derailed the women's version of the National Premier League (NPL). Based on recent information, unless a sponsor is found quickly, the women will be out in the cold this season.
The sad situation is as a result of the decision by Sherwin Williams Limited, which has been single-handedly carrying the women's league for the past 14 years, calling time on their sponsorship at the end of last season.
I believe Sherwin Williams, especially its managing director Ian Forbes, should be commended for propping up women's football for so many years because, based on the quality of the league, it was clearly a case of love and not a desire to gain mileage.
The fact that Sherwin Williams is now out and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has not been able to find another sponsor to fill the breach speaks volume to the lack of appeal of the women's game, albeit we have managed to produce a few decent players over the years.
Like in the men's game, where we can't seem to find not even two or three really good local-based players to represent the Reggae Boyz outfit, the women's game is dying because we lack the requisite structure to really develop the game.
Personally, I feel really sad for persons like Charles Edward, the coach of many times national champions Barbican FC, who has invested so much time and effort in seeking to build both his club and promote the development of his players, many of whom are the mainstay of the national team.
While the women's game has never been a spectacular crowd-puller, it has served its purpose over the years, especially with regard to providing exposure for some of the players who have managed to secure scholarships to attend universities and colleges in the United States.
As I have been saying in this column over recent months, the presidents of the various parish associations need to drop their circle-the-wagon stance in defence of the JFF and begin to think seriously about development because based on our current situation, the men's game might be the next to fall off the radar.
It is my understanding that FIFA pays out approximately US$1.3 million to national associations annually to help develop football at the grass-roots level. If that is indeed the situation with Jamaica, it should be the JFF and not Sherwin Williams that should be holding the fort in terms of pushing the women's game locally.
Unfortunately, the JFF has become so badly riddled with inefficiencies and being burdened by timid affiliates that I seriously doubt that it will become anything better than the national embarrassment it is today unless the current leadership is sent packing.
As the smaller countries in the Eastern Caribbean showed us recently when our under-20 team was unceremoniously eliminated from the 2016 Caribbean Football Union tournament, our entire football programme is in a deep hole and needs to be rescued with new vision and new leadership.