Jamaica’s Road to Brazil has been delayed a little. Football, the most watched sport in the world is reporting some 3.5 billion fans across the world with a heavy concentration of those fans in Europe, Asia and Africa.
The International Football Federation (FIFA) is reportedly valued at $1 billion with equity of $1.061 million. At the last World Cup in 2010, television rights were valued at $650 million. Football players are some of the highest paid, most valuable brands and have the biggest following on Social Media. They are also the most controversial, but at the end of the day, they are what make football one of the greatest sports in the world. Jamaica is now at a turning point with the development and enhancement of its own fledging sporting industry with track and field leading the way, in terms of popularity and impact.
Football on the other hand with its splintered reach and impact has great value, but the difficulty is, there is no evidence of what the football brand is really worth. We know there are over 50 players in professional leagues all over the world, but the reporting of the impact the players are having in those international communities are not well known, neither is the overall financial value of their talents. As we progress towards Brazil 2014 with the hope that Jamaica will qualify for its second World Cup in 14 years; the country has to rally its troops to support the cause for a number of reasons. Qualification for the 2014 World Cup will attract a tremendous amount of sponsorship but the football administration will have some strategic work to undertake to make this bid more successful than in 1998.
The current squad needs players who are more marketable – the team needs a star. The very good teams all around the world all stars. Liverpool has Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz and emerging is Raheem Sterling (I am a Liverpool fan); Manchester United has Wayne Rooney; on the country side, Cristiano Ronaldo is the star for Portugal while Lionel Messi is the star for Argentina and I could go on. Love them or not, they are the stars and the game is played based on their presence. Jamaica needs a star. I won’t try to choose one here, but in time the team needs one and fast. The players need stronger marketability…with the star appeal the team will be looked at more closely for market opportunities for endorsements, sponsorship, brand association and media presence. With those efforts the Jamaica Football Federation can then arrange more international friendlies at “The Office” where Jamaicans will have an opportunity to see their stars and promote the sport of football by the best public relations tool – ‘word of mouth’.
The venues around the island need refurbishing giving greater access to young players who have football as part of their dream; while providing a better environment for inter-school competitions and a better player pool for transition in the national programme. So by the time we hit 2018, Jamaica’s team would have been solidly prepared for entry into the World Cup. The administration of the JFF has to then focus on accountability, transparency and must engage the newest forms of management expertise available, using technology to enhance its message. The support services for the sport have to be managed using the tertiary level institutions allowing for young players to move on to collegiate football to gain valuable experience on and off the field. The number of coaches, officials must increase, but offer quality and impartial service all aimed at growing the sport. Jamaica has to go back to the day where the natural progression from primary to college football is seen as the way to enter the national programme, developing the Jamaican Brand of Football. The island currently boasts the fastest men and women in the world. What of football? Isn’t it high time the Jamaican football brand is known and established into the minds of people firstly in Jamaica and also to the rest of the world. The current coach,
Theodore Whitmore should be made to participate in leadership, management, communications workshops while capturing technical expertise from watching tapes and using data to select the best team Jamaica is to put on the field. The window of opportunity is not as wide open as it was then and with international competition closer to each other’s doorsteps, what is required is the competitive edge to get to Brazil in 2014, just two years before the Olympics. Football has to set the pace and return to its glory days. An important aspect of preparation is prevention and care methodology for the team and its staff…medical, psychological and financial. These areas will prevent any kind of distraction which can only hurt the overall journey of the team. The ball is now in the hands of Captain Burrell and his squad to lead, manage and deliver the efforts of the football team into Brazil 2014.
Written first in October 2012