Adrian Frater | Time to pursue a comprehensive football fix
Thanks to the media, which kept the matter in the public domain; and Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, whose timely intervention infused sanity into the negotiations, the contentious salary negotiations between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and national football coach, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, has been settled with a signed contract for four years.
While I am tempted to say, 'all is well that ends well,' I can't help but wonder why the JFF allowed the situation to drag on so long that Whitmore had to tender his resignation to get them to understand that he had become
tired and frustrated with the procrastination and many broken promises.
It is no secret that Whitmore has been a loyal servant of Jamaica's football, spanning his historic contribution as a player at the 1998 World Cup in France and later in his capacity as a coach, where his level of success has far superseded many of the high-priced coaches that have come our way since the Brazilian RenE Simies gave us global recognition.
I do hope that now that Whitmore's contract has been settled to his satisfaction, the federation will also seek to make assistant coach Jerome Waite, who like Whitmore had rejected the initial offer to him; and goalkeeper coach Warren Barrett, another of our 1998 World Cup heroes, good offers that they can live with.
HOPING FOR SUCCESS
Based on some of the sentiments expressed when Whitmore was holding out, I know some of our football administrators, including persons from here in the west, felt he was being greedy and was being unreasonable. So as to further irritate them, my hope is that Whitmore will be so successful that they will never get a chance to try and slight him again.
And speaking of administrators, I hope the JFF's next big step will centre around demanding accountability from the various parish associations, many of which cannot stand up to scrutiny, insofar as reconciling the funds that have come their way with the programmes they were mandated to develop to unearth talent and open doors for our promising young players.
While I have been an uncompromising critic of the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association because of its history of selfishness, I must admit that, in terms of organisation, structure and implementation of programmes, they are light years ahead of all the rural parishes because they seem to have a desire to establish meaningful programmes and not token programmes.
If we wish to be honest, had it not been for the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) and the fantastic football programmes, ranging from Under-14s, Under-16s and the daCosta Cup, which they have in our rural high schools, many parishes would not know where to look to identify talent when it comes to selecting teams for inter-parish competitions.
It has recently come to my knowledge that Linnel McLean, who recently relinquished his position as president of the Trelawny Football Association, is now in charge of youth football at the JFF, and in wishing him well going forward, I hope his approach will be a rapid departure from the kind of nonsense he was a part of in the JFF's Western Confederation, which has all but destroyed western Jamaica's football.
Having seen the colossal nose-dive that western Jamaica's football has experienced since the glory days of the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, I hope that, between McLean, in his capacity as head of the nation's youth programme; Whitmore, in his role as national coach; and Wendell Downswell, as the director of national football, the west will get some much-needed attention.
I am also hoping that the affiliates in those parish associations, where administrators are seemingly more interested in what they can get out of football than what they can put in, will begin to get bold and start demanding proper representation. They, too, need to realise that good results will not come unless we work for it.