Pay more attention to youth football - Edwards

September 08, 2016
File Edwards

National Under-17 football head coach Andrew Edwards says Jamaica needs to focus more on its youth development programme as another senior national team has failed to qualify for a FIFA World Cup.

Jamaica's Reggae Boyz bid for a spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia ended on Friday after they were beaten 2-0 by Panama in their CONCACAF Group game in Panama City.

The team faced further humiliation after they were beaten 2-0 by Haiti in their final group game at the National Stadium on Tuesday evening. The Jamaicans ended bottom of the group.

Edwards, who is also a coach of football at Manchester High School, said it's time to pay more attention to developing the youth at the Under 13, Under -5, and Under-17 levels.

"We need to focus on building a strong foundation," said Edwards.

"If you look across the world look at Panama Panama prior to 2006 was literally a nonentity in CONCACAF, and with focus on their youth programmes they are definitely a contender for one of the automatic spaces in CONCACAF, and even if not (World Cup) 2018 they will be competitive in 2022," Edwards added.

Edwards, who will accompany the National Under-17 team to Trinidad and Tobago next week for the Caribbean Football Union final round, added that the Jamaica Football Federation, Government, and private sector all have a role to play.

He also believes the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) schoolboy football season should last longer than the current three months, noting that in Japan the schoolboy season is eight months long.

"If ISSA says they are interested in the development of the game, then expansion of the leave is necessary. The JFF also needs to organise a youth development league. In an ideal situation in three tiers, and these players would be playing upwards of 30 games per year at their respective age levels. The Government should play a role in infrastructure development through developing football field and coaching education and player development, looking to engage the services of a top lecturer in football tactics to lecture at G.C. Foster College for five years so we can develop top-quality coaches," Edwards added

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