JFF has some fixing to do but Bailey should know better

By May 21, 2020
Michael Ricketts (left) and Leon Bailey Michael Ricketts (left) and Leon Bailey

Leon Bailey is undoubtedly the most successful player in the recent history of Jamaica’s football and there may be some truth to some of the ‘charges’ he recently levelled at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), however, lambasting your national organization is a no-no.

I do not want to get into the wrongs or rights of the statements, however, the JFF’s history is replete with players of varying levels of professional experience complaining about some of the very same things Bailey seems to take umbrage with.

However, each time that a player has made his feelings public, I have thought to myself, there is a better way to do this.

I do not believe the JFF wants to get into a battle of words with a player and have rightly sought to remind Mr Bailey of his professional responsibilities with a ‘gag order’.

I put gag order in quotes because I believe that no such order will be given to Bailey, but that the JFF is attempting to publicly make it known that the organization would not be putting up with that kind of behaviour.

I have heard Mr Bailey’s agent, Craig Butler, in defence of his client, which is his job really, say he supports the statements and believes the player has a right to them.

I agree.

But controlling sports teams, especially national teams, is a funny thing.

It is not like running an organization with employees who have contracts and are firable, which once done legally, has very little impact on the organization, even in the case of a good employee.

Let us say, that the JFF reached out to Bailey quietly and asked him what the issues were and sought to find common ground.

Here is what I fear would happen.

Now, players in growing numbers start believing that they can just say what they feel, regardless of their platform when doing so.

That, just like the chopping and changing that Butler and Bailey speak about, will have a deleterious effect on team building.

For example, one can look at the French team that imploded at the 2010 World Cup under famous former French player, Raymond Domenech.

It is safe to say the players did not want Domenech leading them anymore and went through a sort of revolt which Zinedine Zidane, arguably the country’s greatest player, foreshadowing the implosion by saying the coach had lost the dressing room.

Theodore Whitmore is, as far as I am aware, respected by his players, but how long will that last if public criticisms of his knowledge and/or competence as a coach are questioned openly without a response?

If the JFF had not responded, Whitmore would be well on his way to losing that dressing room.

Playing for a coach means having the confidence that he knows what he is doing, even if you don’t agree with his methodologies.

A team is not the players and then the administration and coach, an addendum. The team is all of the above.

This means Whitmore is part of that team and one of the most important parts in the success of that team is trust.

You have to trust your coach and public comments disparaging his methods do not engender trust.

The JFF, on the other hand, have to fix the years of mistrust between themselves and players by earnestly reaching out to them. Letting them know if there are financial problems that make it difficult to pay them, if they are having trouble getting games, whatever is an issue that if not communicated properly, could be taken in the wrong way. In other words, the JFF needs to understand that it is part of the team as well and comments by president Michael Ricketts that the JFF cannot cause the team to be eliminated from World Cup qualifications suggests the head of the organization does not see himself as part of the team.

The JFF is part of the team, win, lose or draw.

Not being able to kick the ball into the goal or make a tackle that saves one has nothing to do with being part of the team and the JFF boss and all future ‘bosses’ need to begin to see themselves as part of the team.

That way, whatever the way forward, Jamaica’s football will tackle it as a team.

 

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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