Adrian Frater | Giving our own their just due
As a native of Trelawny, where to be kind is generally accepted as a way of life, I am happy that track and field superstar Usain Bolt, a son of the parish, has stepped forward with his $1 million offer to assist the wards of the Walker's Place of Safety, in Kingston, who were recently displaced by a devastating fire.
Bolt's kind gesture, which was his immediate reaction after hearing the tragic news, did not come as a surprise to me. Based on what I know of his family, especially his father, Wellesley Bolt, who has been operating a grocery shop in Sherwood Content for many years, he too would have done the same thing, without thinking twice.
While it could be argued that Bolt is wealthy and therefore can afford to give away a $1 million, the truth is, there are many other wealthy persons here in Jamaica who can give but have not done so because, unlike Bolt, they probably never grew up among parents and grandparents, who saw the virtues of instilling such values.
In savouring the good feeling I got after hearing about Bolt's kind gesture to the Walker's Place of Safety, my thoughts have once again shifted to the situation with former Reggae Boyz star Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, who is still without a contract, many months after he stepped in to replace the German, Winfried Schaefer.
ABILITY TO DEVELOP
As one who is idolised by many Jamaicans because of his exploits on the football field for Jamaica, especially at the 1998 World Cup, where he emerged the undisputed star for Jamaica, I believe that by not paying him properly, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is hampering Whitmore's ability to develop the financial security, which would give him the capacity to be as generous as Bolt.
In my opinion, it is most unfortunate that the federation has placed so little value on Whitmore, who has done far better as a national coach than many of the foreign coaches we have recruited in recent years. Whitmore is a man with a great heart. I have seen this in the way he has been helping out his alma mater St James High School, so I have no doubt that with more resources at his disposal, more entities would benefit from his generosity.
Since Whitmore's salary has become a matter of public debate, I have found out that, like the JFF, some members of the public here in western Jamaica, think that the man, who is affectionately referred to as 'King,' in Montego Bay, ' is being greedy for rejecting the $300,000 per month salary package, which is reportedly being offered to him.
Even when challenged with the fact that Whitmore's predecessor Schaefer was pocketing US$50,0000 (J$ 6.2 million) a month, there are persons who still believe that because Schaefer is from Germany, which is considered a rich country, he deserves to be paid by German standards, while Whitmore, because he is 'one a wi,' should be paid according to Jamaican standard.
As many of our great icons, including the likes of Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley and Michael Manley, have said in songs and speeches, we are usually our worst enemies. While Whitmore might be a true patriot, I believe that unless the JFF is prepared to make him a decent offer based on global standards, like Carl Brown did when he flatly rejected a US$100 a day offer from the federation, Whitmore should say, "no way."
While he may not readily command a high-profile coaching job in Europe or the United States, based on his resume and his background in the sport, alongside the work he has been doing for FIFA at major tournaments, I am sure that there might be opportunities for Whitmore to coach in places like Asia, where nation's like China are investing top dollars in football.
If the JFF is really serious about taking Jamaica's football to the next level, the matter of the proper remuneration of coaches must be a critical component of their plans. We must treat our coaches with respect, especially a man like Whitmore, who has represented Jamaica with distinction in so many different capacities.