Western Grandstand : Fletcher needs a reality check
When Jourdaine Fletcher took the 2016 schoolboy football season by the 'scruff of the neck', accumulating an impressive tally of goals for Cornwall College, I was among the many persons who got really excited because it had been quite a while since I have seen a young striker of his quality in local football.
When Fletcher subsequently made his Red Stripe Premier League debut for Montego Bay United FC, coming off the bench to score a brilliant goal against Waterhouse FC, I was thrilled because in his 20 minutes on the pitch, he looked at home against his vastly more experienced teammates and opponents.
Naturally, when Fletcher got called up to the national senior team and subsequently went on to join the elite band of players who played senior national football while still in school, I saw it as a natural progression.
Fast-forward a few months and the unexpected has now happened. Fletcher is out of the national football, and not because his talent has suddenly deserted him, but from all indications, his discipline has broken down.
Within recent days, I heard several persons expressing disgust that national coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, who like Fletcher is a Montegonian, should have given him a chance, seeing that he is still a young man who might be having challenges adjusting to his new situation and fame.
Frankly, I reject that line of argument. Representing one's country is arguably the highest honour one could achieve in a lifetime, and I believe that Fletcher is smart enough to realise that it is something that should be treated with the ultimate respect and not in a cavalier manner.
I believe that in sending home Fletcher, Whitmore did him a huge favour. What Whitmore has done is given him an opportunity to go home and re-evaluate his situation with a view to deciding where he wants to go with his life and his talent. If he is really serious about a life in football, this is an opportunity for him to press the reset button.
Instead of trying to convince other people about how 'wicked' Whitmore is and why "him nuh like the MoBay youth dem," the persons around Fletcher need to get him to understand that he needs to go out and put in the required work so that he will be ready when the next opportunity comes for him to reclaim a place in the national team.
While I have never personally experienced the type of success that Fletcher has enjoyed in his short career, I know that being a popular young footballer has its challenges. If you are not properly focused, you could easily be led astray by those who keep telling you how great you are while not encouraging you to keep working to get better.
Young Fletcher is now at a crucial stage in his life; the choices he makes could well decide whether or not he will ever realise his full potential. I hope he will quickly realise that he could well be standing at the door to fame and fortune and all that is required to get in is making the right decision.
I am therefore encouraging Fletcher to go seek counsel with persons like his high school coach Dr Dean Weatherley, former Cornwall College and Reggae Boyz goalkeeper and captain Warren Barrett, and the legendary CC old boy Steve Bucknor, who are all quite experienced in handling success. That is the kind of interaction he needs at this time.