Allien Whittaker wants academy for goalies
In 2001, Allien Whittaker put on a goalkeeping clinic at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Argentina for Jamaica.
Though he only played three games, as Jamaica was eliminated in the first round of the competition, Whittaker, aged 17 then, was voted best goalkeeper of the tournament.
He was picked over Petr Cech, who has become a renowned English Premier League keeper.
And Whittaker, who now ekes out a living as soldier for the Jamaica Defence Force, is putting on more goalkeeping clinics in central Jamaica as he seeks to pass on his experience.
"I am basically passing on the experience that I have developed over the years," Whittaker told CENTRAL STAR recently. "I am trying to bring them at a level where I was at or even better than where I was when I was actually at their age playing."
The 38-year-old has worked at many schools within Clarendon and Manchester, and this year, he is focused on his alma mater, Clarendon College, as well as Denbigh High.
"The feedback I am getting is that they are seeing improvement, and that is a motivation for me. It is always nice when you plant a tree and it bears fruits. The coach at Denbigh told me the other day that his most improved players are the goalkeepers," Whittaker said.
But Whittaker wants to take it further than just providing training for goalkeepers at various central high schools.
"The type of thing that I am looking towards, basically, is a goalkeeping academy, but it has been difficult to get off the ground," Whitaker explained. "There is so much potential, and I believe if the boys get the right people to teach them, the sky is the limit."
According to Whittaker, he
has informed the Jamaica Football Federation of his plans and hopes officials can come
on board to make his dream a reality.
"I would love if they could buy into the dream. Goalkeeping has always been overlooked in football, in all aspects of the game," he said. "Some of the youngsters who I am coaching now are actually without gloves."
He also said that team managers don't see gloves as important.
"One of the things, also, that I have picked up with the schoolboy football is that sponsors are issuing short sleeves and shorts to the goalkeepers, and they will not allow them to develop their techniques properly," he said. "Most of the fields which are used for the competitions are not good enough, and that is the reason why you really need long, padded pants and long-sleeved shirts. If you are on a pitch that is very poor, the goalkeeper will be afraid to stretch out his hands."
He added, "I am really passionate about this. I would want the help of anyone out there."