Western Grandstand : Time for Burrell to pack his bags
Unlike those fans which are seemingly shocked that Jamaica's Reggae Boyz fell by the wayside in the nation's latest bid to qualify for a second FIFA World Cup, I was not at all surprised.
Regular readers of this column can attest to the fact that I have long concluded that our campaign was an exercise in futility.
While the players and the coaching staff were the ones on the battlefield during the campaign, I find it very hard to blame them because in my heart, I know we failed because of the haphazard nature of our football structure, which is clearly not geared towards success.
It is against that background that I want to take issue with those persons who are calling for the head of coach Winfried Schaefer while ignoring the fact that the president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell, is equally guilty and in Jamaican parlance, should 'tek weh himself' for his failure to create the kind of national product, which once made us the pride of the English-speaking Caribbean.
For many years, I have been stating through this column that the National Premier League which should be fine-tuning loyal footballers and getting them ready for national and international football, is nothing more than a 'rubbish' football tournament, which is no better in nature that some of the corner leagues being played across the island.
The league, which has a strong Kingston and St. Andrew bias, is not representative of the entire nation, as fewer than half of the nation's 14 parishes are involved. As a consequence, many of the talented youngsters we see at the daCosta Cup level, get left behind and unlike in track and field, where the structure is built to keep rural athletes on the radar, their talents get wasted.
What I find most disconcerting about Burrell's leadership is an apparent fear on his part to challenge the status quo insofar as the big clubs in Kingston are concerned. Based on his vast experience, he should know that our best option for a stable football programme is to go the franchise route. However, because it would expand the national base while forcing some of the KSAFA teams to either amalgamate or pull down shutters, he has decided not to rock the boat.
As I have stated many times in this column, I believe some of the big clubs in Kingston are more about massaging the egos of their owners than promoting national development. That is why we can't seem to get any local based players into the national team, because the harsh reality is that they are simply not up to the standard that will make sense at the international level.
I believe the presidents of many of the parish associations should also be blamed for allowing the stagnation of what was once a promising programme. Instead of demanding that some of the funds the JFF gets from FIFA to develop football at the grassroots is spent in their various parishes, they seem more concerned in staying in the good books to protect their Captain's Bakery sponsorship.
Now that we have hit rock bottom with the current nonsense football programme, we have refused to abandon, it will be interesting to see if, like the no-nonsense St. Ann FA president Danny Beckford, the other parish presidents will find the courage to speak out about the disastrous state of our football and demand the requisite changes be made.
It is my view that if there is a case to pull the plug on Schaefer for his failure to get the team to deliver, there must also be a case for us to tell Burrell to pack his bags because he stood by and allowed the German to be here enjoying the country's hospitality while the players he is supposed to be coaching are all in Europe and the United States, only to be seen a few days before each international assignment.
If we really love Jamaica and want to see our football on par with other disciplines such as athletics and netball, we need to take the bold step to replace the current inept leadership with personnel with the courage to reorganise our football for greater efficiency. We need to look at Trinidad & Tobago, where their football is turning around in the post-Jack Warner era.