November 12 – Even before the 2017 version of the Manning, DaCosta, Ben Francis, Walker and Flow Super Cup competitions end, I would like to make some suggestions to the folks who manage football in Jamaica. This includes all the organizations with Prep, Primary, High, Club and Elite football under its purview.
The traditional competitions all together have brought us to the ultimate in 1998, when Jamaica participated in the World Cup of Football. That is what all countries dream of.
What has happened since? And what will happen now? I have suggested over and over that Jamaica needs the football program. It is the sport that will bring the best opportunity for investment and the sport that is likely to attract the greatest level of support in sponsorship, if shown to be well-organized and bearing fruit.
What does this mean?
- Prepare a plan that speaks to the pathway to achieve the ultimate (another appearance in World Cup)
- Invest in the technical development of all those involved – coaches, officials, strength and conditioning experts, academicians, analysts, other support teams
- Improve the facilities – for competition, for training and preparation
- ISSA and the JFF must sit together and figure out how the schools’ program feed into the professional/elite program, and what if any adjustments are required This system then has to match what our competitors are doing globally in this particular age group. We will match the outputs to see what adjustment may be necessary to ensure that the Under 17, Under 23 and Senior levels of football are on par. In the meantime, the academic development of the athletes must also be comparable. ISSA as a governing body for school sports require a research unit to assemble this information and put a strategic plan to share with its stakeholders for 1. Buy-in 2. Delivery and ultimately for results. Development takes time and we have to be prepared to do the work.
For Jamaica to get back to the World Cup, the timeframe for this cycle, 2017 – 2022, must be in planning stage now and I would hope that this planning in happening behind the scenes. Remember now, sport is judged (ultimately) by Olympic medals, appearances in World Cup/Championship and athletes being able to the among those with the biggest pay checks and endorsement packages.
Is our system ready to absorb this? If so, it is time. So whether the remedy is to reorganize school football, club football and senior program, then now is as good a time. We can acknowledge our traditions by maintaining names of competitions etc, but we must embrace a new way of thinking and approach the sport as a business to meet the goal as required.
The 17-year old in Germany, England, Australia and Brazil is on a path to World Cup…are our players at the same age at the same point? We can no longer depend on talent, as we have seen where that has placed us. We need strategy at all levels to compete.
You may refer to this column I wrote July this year, http://web.jamaica-gleaner.com/article/sports/20170724/carole-beckford-jamaica-and-football-leadership
Or you can go back to October 2012 http://carolebeckford.blogspot.com/2012/10/jamaica-needs-football-programme.html