Bank on youth - David Watt says investment in young can carry Jamaica to World Cup
David Watt, the man who managed the Reggae Boyz team that played at the 1998 World Cup, is convinced that Jamaica can make it back to the world's greatest showpiece event.
Watt, a Cornwall College past student and former player of the Champion Youth Club in Orange, St James, said certain key programmes and strategies need to be implemented for the country to return to the big stage.
"We need to see more competitiveness at the Premier League level. Also, an Under-21 programme, like what we had first time, need to come back. That was a perfect example of ensuring the transition from schoolboy football to Under-21, to the Premier League," Watt said.
Since making it to the World Cup in 21 in 1998, the Reggae Boyz have fallen short in every qualifying tournament since.
BRING BACK UNDER-21
"Looking at football now, when a young player leaves high school then that's it. They just stop playing. So we need to bring back the Under-21 programme, and I am lobbying to ensure that we can get sponsorship to bring back a programme like that to develop our football," he added.
Like many Jamaicans, Watt is watching the 2018 World Cup in Russia with mixed feelings. He likes the fact that it is hard to predict the outcome of games, but is saddened that Jamaica is yet to make it back to the tournament.
"Jamaica's qualification for the 1998 World Cup was a joyous moment," said Watt. "To know that a little country like Jamaica was heading to the big stage was a historic moment. Another fond memory was when we beat Japan 2-1 in one of our World Cup matches," he said.
The 65-year-old football administrator currently serves as chairman of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) disciplinary committee as well as the first-vice president of the St James Football Association.