Our football is now a worthless product

October 08, 2016
Winfried Schafer (left) and JFF president Captain Horace Burrell.
Onandi Lowe (31)
Walter Boyd
Ricardo Gardner
Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore
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Western Bureau:

Despite the fact that Jamaica Reggae Boyz has crashed out of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and the uncomfortable truth that the nation's football is currently in disarray, one gets the feeling that many persons believe that all the blame should fall on ex-coach Winfried Schafer and not the inept Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Frankly speaking, I was expecting more persons to be calling for the resignation of the JFF's boss, Captain Horace Burrell, and the dismantling of the JFF, because in my opinion, that is where the real problems lie and not with Schafer, who was basically given a basket to carry water.

It does not take a great deal of intelligence to realise that, if you have a situation where the players live outside of Jamaica and the coach is based in Jamaica and only see the players a few days before each game, this is a recipe for failure and is perhaps the main reason why our World Cup campaign folded so meekly.

I have heard several persons whose views I would normally respect, arguing that, instead of using the England-born players, coach Schafer should have invested in the local players, who are campaigning in the 'national joke,' which we have mistakenly branded as a National Premier League (NPL).

In my opinion, of all the football I have seen being played across Jamaica at this time, to include primary school competition, the ISSA schoolboy competition, the business house competitions and even the community corner leagues, the most flawed of all the competitions being played is without a doubt, the premier league, which is not even fully representative of all Jamaica.

When I reflect on the club football that was being played in Jamaica back in the 1970s and look at what entails now, it would be like comparing chalk to cheese. The 1970s had stars like Allan 'Skill' Cole, Peter 'Dove' Marston, Derrick 'Sastri' Dennicer, Herbert 'Dago' Gordon, Corcel and Miguel Blair, Orville Edwards among many other exceptional players. Today, it would be a struggle to find one local player to compare with those illustrious players.

Even at the schoolboy level in the 1970s, players such as the likes of Lenworth 'Teacher' Hyde, Noel 'Sweetie' Smith, Errol 'Blakie' Blake, Douglas 'Dougie. Bell, Wayne Palmer and Dennis 'Den Den' Hutchinson were head and shoulders above the players now competing in the NPL and surely could walk into any of the national teams of recent vintage.

It is no wonder that, unlike now, back in the 1970s, when NPL football in Jamaica was contested by the champions of each parish, the games used to attract large crowds at almost every venue because the players were extremely gifted and the excitement they generated was something no genuine football fan would want to miss.

Today, except for schoolboy football, the business house leagues and the corner leagues, which are primarily driven by old school loyalty and friend and family loyalty, there is really nothing of substance to attract spectator-support on merit. It is not difficult to understand why local fans have abandoned the NPL for their television sets, where they are getting real quality and excitement from the English, Spanish, and Italian and Brazilian leagues.

If one should roll back even to the 1980s and 1990s when we had home-grown stars like Walter 'Blacka' Boyd, Onandi Lowe, Durrant 'Tatty' Brown, Linval 'Rudi' Dixon, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore and Ricardo 'Bibi' Gardener among others, I doubt any loyal fans of local football would be staying home to watch a game on television if the players mentioned above were involved in a game within a ten miles radius of their homes.

The sad truth is that our football is now a suffering and struggling product because we are no longer producing quality players and the current leadership lacks the capacity to design programmes to bring the talent to the fore. Without innovative leadership, we will never return to the days when we use to produce stars dime a dozen.

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