England manager Gareth Southgate is reportedly keen on blunting bold recruitment ambitions of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who have targeted a number of English players that qualify to play for the Caribbean nation.

According to recent reports, the JFF, through agent Devon Porter, has sought to make contact with a number of players that could qualify to represent the nation in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, by virtue of having Jamaican parents or grandparents. 

The list is said to include newly promoted Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, Everton's Mason Holgate, Manchester United's Mason Greenwood, and Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who were all born to Jamaican parents.

The England manager has requested a meeting with the four players for Friday afternoon.  Southgate is expected to assure them of the possibility of playing for their birth country.  The England national football program has been guilty in the past of giving fringe players one of two caps, in order to end the pursuit of other potential nations, and never recalling those players again. 

Across England’s top four leagues there are said to be an estimated 124 players of Jamaican ancestry.  English-based Jamaican players played a crucial role in the country securing its only appearance at the FIFA World Cup in 1998.  The Jamaica team has already qualified for the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.  

The Reggae Boyz have done well to push their CONCACAF rankings and make it directly to the final round of World Cup qualification.

But I don’t believe that this has helped them. I believe it would have been better had the Reggae Boyz not done so well up to this point.

The brand, Reggae Boyz, is not what it used to be and as it stands, the team hasn’t been getting high-quality opponents during friendlies.

I believe that the match windows the team could have used to get sharp and stay sharp will be wasted on teams not of the quality to prepare the Reggae Boyz for the harsh realities of the Octagonal they are to face in June of 2021.

So far, the Reggae Boyz, the number four team in CONCACAF, will play against the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Three other teams will join the Reggae Boyz in the final-round fight for a place at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Reggae Boyz, if properly prepared, can compete against any of these teams, but without having to play in further qualifiers before the final round, I fear they may not be.

Outside of a 3-1 defeat to the United States in June of 2019, in the last year, the Reggae Boyz have played against Curacao, Panama, Antigua & Barbuda, Guyana and Aruba.

No disrespect to these teams, but as far as oppositions go, they may not be good enough to accurately prepare the Reggae Boyz for high-quality opposition in the Octagonal.

With no international football since the spread of COVID-19 and attempt to cauterize it from creating further devastation, the Reggae Boyz have been, in a word, idle.

You might say this applies to all the teams in the final round, however, these teams have a greater history of being successful at this level.

It is the Reggae Boyz who need to step up, improve to their level.

The team, I believe, has all the requisite talent to do so. The Reggae Boyz performance in making the second Gold Cup finals in their history is proof of that.

However, coach Theodore Whitmore and standout centre half Damion Lowe, have pointed to one thing while noting the excellent chances of this team of making it to Qatar in 2022.

The two have said the preparations need to be on point.

One of the ways of preparing is to play friendlies against high-enough quality opposition to ensure, match readiness and to figure out how to diminish your weaknesses.

While the opposition the Reggae Boyz have faced over the last year may provide them match readiness, these teams do not adequately show up the Reggae Boyz’ weaknesses.

Those weaknesses will not be shown up because, again, no disrespect to the opposition so far, the Reggae Boyz are better.

The Jamaica Football Federation has kept its plans for the months preceding the Octagonal close to its chest but if the nature of friendlies in the recent past is anything to go by, the Reggae Boyz might find themselves short of work come June.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) have reportedly sought to secure the services of Leeds United central midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

The 24-year-old is fresh off playing a crucial role in the team’s successful bid to secure promotion to the English Premier League (EPL).  The Caribbean team are hoping to he can play a similar role in their bid to secure a return to the FIFA World Cup.  A feat they first accomplished in 1998.

Phillips is of Jamaican heritage and could quality to represent the county by virtue of the fact that his father is Jamaican.  The player has, however, also attracted the interest of his birth nation England, with his progress already being monitored by the team’s manager Gareth Southgate.

The Jamaican’s are currently in an eight-team final round World Cup qualification group, which will see three teams qualify directly to the tournament and another secure a play-off spot.  The JFF has already reportedly contacted Leeds asking for permission to sit down with Phillips and try to convince him to pick the Caribbean unit.  Phillips, who was born in Leeds, has never been selected to represent that Three Lions at any level and could have a tough time securing a spot in a talented England team.

Despite a rich history in football, the Caribbean has not had many moments to savour on the World stage, making them, interestingly, all the more special.

Cuba provided the first of the moments, making the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup all the way back in 1938.

Cuba had always been a little special island, long proving itself self-sufficient and able to compete with the rest of the world, despite any political or financial issues that could serve to slow its development.

That self-sufficiency and ability to achieve despite significant odds meant that Cuba’s entrance to the FIFA World Cup was not a emblematic moment and the rest of the Caribbean felt no closer to the possibility of making it on the world stage.

Thirty-six years later, Haiti provided the second moment, getting to the FIFA World Cup in 1974.

That feat, for a country, which had long-standing political issues and an overbearing poverty problem, was immense.

Now the rest of the Caribbean began to take note. Maybe now other islands could dare to dream.

While Haiti’s football has ebbed and flowed and they have not quite gotten back to those heady heights, the moment was important.

All of a sudden, the possibilities for Caribbean football were immense.

But it took another 20 years before the Reggae Boyz were on a similar journey. For the first time, CONCACAF had more than the obligatory two spots that would go to Mexico and the United States.

Now there was hope for someone else to join the fray. Still there were obstacles.

In 1997, the Reggae Boyz were up against it. In the final round they were winless, until a series of three games, 1-0 wins over each of El Salvador, Canada, and Costa Rica.

After finishing winless in the first four games of the final qualifying round, Jamaica recorded three 1–0 wins over El Salvador, Canada, and Costa Rica, giving them a chance at history.

Jamaica were on the cusp of becoming the first English-speaking team from the Caribbean to make it to the World Cup.

But standing in their way was the mighty Mexico. Jamaica needed to avoid losing to a team they had lost to 6-0 earlier in those qualifiers. There was hope but it was slim.

History has a funny way of staying the same and no matter how many times this story gets told, the 0-0 draw the Reggae Boyz achieved against the attacking juggernauts that were Mexico still seems unlikely.

An entire nation celebrated, but so did the rest of the Caribbean. After all, there were other countries in the region that had proven worthy adversaries for the Reggae Boyz and that meant somebody else could make it too.

In 2006, somebody else did.

Trinidad and Tobago, still with two of its legends, Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, in tow would take an ageing team, and prove the Caribbean were now becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Until 2018 when Iceland made their World Cup bow, T&T were the smallest nation to ever play in the tournament.

But it wasn’t easy either, and Trinidad and Tobago, after finishing fourth in the final round had to contend with the unknown quantity that was Bahrain.

The tiny twin-island republic had to play against a team, which had financial resources that would dwarf it.

Things looked even more bleak for T&T after the first leg of the home-and-away tie on November 12, 2005, played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, ended 1-1.

This meant, T&T had to go away to win against a team they couldn’t get the better of at home.

Again, the Caribbean beat the odds and a 1-0 win at the Bahrain National Stadium on the 16th of November 2005 again changed the course of history for the Caribbean side and the region around it.

The Caribbean has, since those moments made great leaps in the transport of its players all over the world, even if those marginal improvements have yet to bare fruit in terms of consistent Caribbean representation at the ICC World Cup.

But the improvements continue as can be seen with the large number of locally grown players, now turning out for the national teams of countries all over the region.

Today there is more and more competition from the rest of the Caribbean and neither T&T nor Jamaica have a free run of the region anymore.

It is interesting that the success of the three over the last 46 years, is what has created a competitive Caribbean and destroyed the spectre of their unquestioned dominance.  

Reggae Boyz central defender, Damion Lowe, continues to maintain that his side stands a very good chance of finding its way to the World Cup in Qatar, even with the changes of the final round from the traditional six teams to an eight-team format.

CONCACAF has three and a half spots, meaning the top three from this group earns an automatic berth to the World Cup, while the fourth-placed team plays in a play-off for a chance to join them.

With two additional teams in the final round for which the Reggae Boyz have already qualified should mean more competition for the the three and a half spots but, according to Lowe, the performance of the team in its recent past suggests it has the tools to get over the line nonetheless.

“I believe the teams ranked ahead of us is because they play bigger opponents and more games, but if you look at tournaments where we play against each other, Jamaica are second or third and we can challenge Mexico and anybody else when we are prepared properly,” said Lowe during an interview with local newspaper, the Jamaica Observer.

By preparation, Lowe means further improving on the personnel in the squad coached by Theodore Whitmore, as well as getting top-class opposition to warm up against.

“We maybe fourth ranked now, but we have to scout properly in order to find the right pieces. When we find the pieces, we have to now play top opponents to help us prepare for the qualifiers,” he said.

CONCACAF announced the following on Monday:

The new Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 comprise of three rounds and provide all participating Member Associations with the chance to compete for the Confederation’s three and a half World Cup spots.

The First Round (30 teams) will be played between the Concacaf Member Associations ranked 6-35 based on the FIFA rankings as of July 16, 2020.

The 30 men’s national teams will be drawn into six groups of five in a seeded draw. The six highest-ranked teams, El Salvador, Canada, Curacao, Panama, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago will be pre-seeded into groups A to F respectively.

Each team will play every other team in their group once, playing a total of four matches; two home and two away. These games will be played in the FIFA match windows of October 2020 and November 2020.

At the end of the First Round, the six group winners will progress to the Second Round.

The Second Round (six teams) will be played between the group winners from the First Round, with the matchups pre-determined as follows:

 

Group A winner vs Group F winner

Group B winner vs Group E winner

Group C winner vs Group D winner

 

The teams will play home and away in a direct elimination format in the FIFA match window of March 2021. The three winners will progress to the Final Round.

The Final Round (eight teams) of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will see the three winners from the Second Round join the Concacaf Member Associations ranked 1-5 based on the FIFA rankings as of July 16th, 2020. The national teams ranked 1-5 had already gained enough FIFA ranking points to guarantee their place in the Final Round prior to the development of a new format.

Final Round teams: 1. Mexico 2. USA 3. Costa Rica 4. Jamaica 5. Honduras 6. Second Round Winner 7. Second Round Winner 8. Second Round Winner.

The Final Round will begin in the double FIFA match window in June 2021 and continue in the FIFA match windows of September, October, November 2021 and January and March 2022.

The eight teams will play each other home and away, with each team playing 14 matches.  

Jamaica international Garath McCleary has expressed disappointment with the manner in which he learned his time with Championship club Reading FC was at an end but thanked fans and former teammates.

McCleary had signed a short-term contract to help the club through the final matches of the campaign, but Reading has decided not to extend it.  The decision marked the end of the 33-year-old’s eight-year tenure with the club who he joined in 2012.  The player, who took an active part in the team’s 2012-2013 Premier League campaign, recently reflected on the situation via his Instagram account.

"After 8 years & 270 appearances, my time at Reading FC has come to an end! The farewell wasn’t how I envisaged it would be, receiving a call whilst on my holiday after season finished, BUT.....

 "I want to say a huge thank you to the all the players past & previous I’ve played with (in football they say you never have friends but I’ve made some for sure) and staff especially the people behind the scenes,” McCleary posted.

"I’ve built up some great relationships across the years with kit men, canteen staff, pa’s, groundstaff and more so without naming you all you made my time that extra bit enjoyable,” he added.

"No matter who you are, treat every person with respect I’m genuinely sad there are still so many people I haven’t seen to have a proper natter and hug.

"To the fans who’ve stood by me and stayed positive throughout all the drama, sometimes a message you may not think is seen always is and I’m touched by what’s been said.”

Recently Theodore Whitmore spoke about carrying momentum from the CONCACAF Gold Cup into the region’s World Cup Qualifiers and it got me thinking.

Far more Jamaican footballers get opportunities today to go abroad and ply their trade as professional footballers than ever before. The island had always had a smattering of professionals but today, that dream is not nearly as far-fetched for those who grow up playing the game there.

But first, Jamaica got some help from overseas-born Jamaicans, who made up a significant portion of the squad that made a historic visit to the World Cup in France in 1998.

On that squad, though, there was an 18-year-old local, Ricardo Gardner, who had cemented his place at left-back during those qualifiers.

And while many may not see it that way, it was his performances at the World Cup and later, his professionalism at Bolton Wanderers, where he spent his entire career, that would kick the door open for Jamaican players.

But the moment that caught the eye of Sam Allerdyce, Bolton Wanderer’s coach at the time, could very well have been missed because it was literally, a moment.

Jamaica were down 1-0 to fellow debutants Croatia in their World Cup opener.

Truth be told, nobody expected anything less because even though Croatia were newcomers, their players were well-known professionals playing in big clubs all over Europe. Their ‘newness’ to World Cup competition really stemmed from the recent birth of their country.

Croatia was part of the country known as Yugoslavia, well-known for producing international teams and players of repute.

So Croatia weren’t really newcomers.

Gardner was, in all senses of the word, but he never played like one. He was confident on the ball and made good decisions throughout the game, even as Croatia proved dominant in a 3-1 win.

They would take the momentum from that victory all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup, eventually finishing third behind winners, France, and runners-up Brazil.

But before that, they did have to go through a moment of worry against the ‘lowly’ Jamaicans.

Trailing 1-0 courtesy of a Mario Stanic tap in at the 27th-minute marker, Jamaica were not overawed and stayed in the game.

On the stroke of half time, an attempted dribble down the left-hand flank was broken up by Croatia, but the interception came to the feet of Gardner who struck a perfect left-footed cross onto the head of Robbie Earle.

Earle rose high and powered home his header, Jamaica’s first of the World Cup, and Croatia now had work to do to get ahead in the game once more.

Gardner’s assist was noted. The vision to make the pass without a second touch, the timing, the accuracy, were noted by Allerdyce.

And when against Japan, who Jamaica beat 2-1, Gardner went on a mazy run, showcasing some fleet footedness before collapsing from sheer exhaustion from the effort, his contract with the then Championship outfit, was assured.

Today, 22 years later, Jamaicans are still benefitting from that cross.

The 2015 Gold Cup was the start of a remarkable run of success for Jamaica in the Gold Cup. Two years later in 2017 under the guidance of Head Coach Theodore Whitmore, Jamaica returned to the Final. Then in last summer’s Gold Cup, Whitmore’s side was once again in the title mix in reaching the semifinals, marking three straight Gold Cup semifinal appearances, becoming the only Caribbean nation to accomplish that feat.

With all those Gold Cup achievements under their belts, Whitmore’s objective is now to translate those Gold Cup results into success during Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022.

“It says a lot about this group of players. This is a special group of players and it is nice to have so much Gold Cup success, but now our goal is to take that into World Cup Qualifying. Our ultimate objective is to reach the World Cup, so the way we have performed in the Gold Cup and Nations League, we have to bring that same mentality to World Cup Qualifying,” said Whitmore in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.

Although Jamaica’s 2017 Gold Cup ended with a narrow 2-1 defeat to the United States in the Final, Whitmore feels like there were many positives to be taken.

“It was a great experience. Our first goal was to get out of the group and we knew that once we got out of the group that we could do well. It was a great effort from the team to reach the Final. Unfortunately, we lost the Final, but overall, I am very happy with how the players played,” said Whitmore.

That run to the 2017 Final included a first ever Gold Cup win over Mexico when Kemar Lawrence’s late free kick made the difference in a 1-0 win.

“We knew with Mexico that the longer you keep them contained, your chances will come. We did a good job of limiting their attack. I think they only had a couple chances early. Defensively we were very good and stayed compact and organized. We were then able to take advantage of our scoring opportunities. On free kicks, we have two players who usually take them and Kemar had no doubts that he would take that. After the game we felt so much elation for the victory because the players worked so hard,” said Whitmore.

Jamaica followed up their 2019 Gold Cup semifinal finish with a strong display in the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League in which the Reggae Boyz topped their group in League B with a 5W-1D-0L record. As a former Caribbean footballer and current coach, Whitmore is pleased to see so many different island nations reaping the rewards of Concacaf’s Nations League initiative.

“I think it is good for the whole Caribbean because the most important thing for players to raise their level is to have more games. Now, all of the Caribbean teams can make plans because they know they have games to play. It is very important for a player to have regular competition in order to improve and the Nations League has helped with that,” said Whitmore.

New initiatives from Concacaf are also being felt at the club level with the recent introduction of the Scotiabank Concacaf League in 2017, which has included the likes of Jamaicans clubs Portmore United, Waterhouse and Arnett Gardens. Since its inception, young Jamaican players have starred in the tournament and used its platform to earn moves to bigger clubs in the area and call-ups to Whitmore’s side.

“Before teams like Waterhouse, Portmore United, Harbor View, they would only play in the Red Stripe Premier League here in Jamaica. Now they can play in a Concacaf tournament, and that is important because you see their players get tested. That helps with the development of players. Players like Maalique Foster, Javon East, you see them perform in Concacaf League and they can move to bigger clubs,” said Whitmore.

It has been 14 years since Whitmore, an attacking midfielder, hung up his boots as a player following a sparkling 22-year career in which he excelled for both club and country. It also coincided with a time when some of the best midfielders in Concacaf history were in their prime.

“I played against some very tough midfielders. Rafa Marquez of Mexico is one who was very tough, Amado Guevara from Honduras. There were so many good players in midfield in Concacaf during that time, so I knew I always had a battle on my hands,” said Whitmore.

When he reflects on his career in a Jamaica shirt, there are a couple victories that stand out, but mostly his two-goal performance in Jamaica’s only FIFA World Cup victory, a 2-1 final over Japan at France 1998.

“In 1997 when we defeated Mexico to qualify for the World Cup, that was such a special moment because it was the first time that Jamaica qualified for the World Cup. I would also say when we beat Japan 2-1 in the World Cup and I scored the two goals.

“Of the two goals I scored, I like the first one the best. I remember the night before I was talking with Ricardo Gardner and Ian Goodison and we told each other that we had to win our last game, that we couldn’t leave the World Cup without a win. They told me that I needed to be the one to score, since I had scored the first goal in qualifying against Suriname, so they said I should be the one to begin and close our journey. You can see on the video that I score the first goal and Ricardo and Ian come celebrate with me. The second goal was also a feeling of great joy,” concluded Whitmore.

Retired Jamaica international Jobi McAnuff insists he is not just along for the ride after signing a new one-year contract with England League Two club Leyton Orient.

McANuff the club captain, will be 39 years old later this year and transitioned to a player/coach role last season.  He will be in a similar capacity this year but despite being the senior statesman of sorts is determined to be more than just a passenger on the pitch.

“I don’t just want to be a bit part or be here for the ride, I want to contribute, that’s a big, big thing for me,” McAnuff said in an interview with the club’s official website.

“I’m feeling good,” he added.

 “Last year, as everyone knows, was frustrating. I worked really hard to get back to playing, and I’ve got a lot of work again to get to the level I want to get to.”

The injury kept McAnuff out of action for almost the entire season, not playing his first match until March.  Orient coach Ross Embleton is confident the Jamaica midfielder will be a major contributor both on and off the pitch – and is delighted to see him stay.

“He’s been at the club since I came back, and we all know what an inspiration he is on the pitch,” Embleton said.

McAnuff has made 141 appearances for the O’s in two spells.

 

Joe Hunt, International Projects Manager at English Premier League Club Wolverhampton Wanderers, believes finding their own identity is the best way for Caribbean countries to climb the international football ladder.

 Hunt, who currently oversees projects in North America, Asia, and Europe insists that merely copying what the best teams in the world are doing may not be the best fit for countries in the region.

 He pointed out that even his own country, England, has been guilty of thinking along those lines in the past.

 “When the French won in ’98 everyone wanted to copy the French, England tried. When Germany won the World Cup, everyone wanted to copy Germany. When Belgium produced all these players everyone wanted to copy Belgium. We are none of them, we are English so it’s about time that they developed a pathway that suited English players,” Hunt told The Commentators podcast.

 “Overall you got to have your own identity – how you want to play –what’s going to suit your players when you step into the elite arena.”

 Hunt was a guest on The Commentators Podcast with Ricardo Chambers and Donald Oliver. Listen to the full episode.

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.

 

There has been a long-running argument about what Jamaica can do to help push along its football development with many pundits voicing many different opinions.

One of the most successful schoolboy football coaches in recent history, former Jamaica College head honcho, Miguel Coley sat down with Tanya Lee on ‘Sports Chat’ recently and pointed to another way of looking at that development.

According to Coley, all the arguments about developing fields to generate good habits among young footballers will count for nought if the country does not understand how to manage its talent.

“Management of players is very, very important. We have not lacked talent but what we lack is properly managing our players,” the former Reggae Boyz assistant coach explained.

Coley compared the way other more successful sports in the country, like track and field are treated and believes football should take its cue from them.

“If you look at any other sport, like track and field, for example, that athlete needs management around him, he needs maybe his doctor, a physiotherapist, all different stakeholders that support him. In football, when we have very good players, we don’t have a good management system around them. They are injured, they cannot go to the doctor, they cannot find finances to do this and that,” he said.

Coley, who rose to fame after his Jamaica College units won every title you could think of over the course of seven years, said putting a good management team in place for good young players will engender professional habits and lead to better footballers.

“We have to identify our good young players from early, put a good management team around them and let them start feeling and seeing themselves as being on the doorstep of being a professional player,” he said.

Coley was not ignoring the other issues within football in Jamaica but said he believed development would occur even without them being resolved.

“People will say you need a lot of resources and money, but what we need more of is personnel. We know the problems with our fields, and many countries have issues with fields, so it is no problem sometimes you play on a bad field, and you grow from that level. We definitely need better fields in the country, but I think more than anything else it’s the management,” he said.

Coley, who is assistant coach at United Arab Emirates side Banniyas, also believes that management goes hand in hand with good coaching and wants the coaches in the country to up their level.

“We also have to get our coaches to a level where it is not only about being certified but to have the experience now to take our talents to the next level,” said Coley.

“For our football to improve, or for education on anything to improve, your teachers and coaches have to be at a certain level. You’re not going to be lecturing at the university with a diploma, you need a doctorate or maybe a masters, so that is something that has to improve. And this has nothing to do with our coaches not being good, but they have to be at a certain level to bring that talent because Jamaica has the raw, raw, talent, just bring the coaches to a certain level.”

History lay in waiting for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz in 1997 after the side, under the tutelage of Rene Simoes, qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France.

But before the day when the Black, Gold and Green was raised in celebration over an absolutely remarkable feat, there was a moment, just as historic and memorable, but for a very different reason.

Jamaican international Shamar Nicholson paints a frustrated image from his home in the Belgian city of Charleroi.

Nicholson, a former Boys’ Town footballer, transferred from the Red Stripe Premier League and now plies his trade in Belgium’s Jupiter League.

Charleroi, for whom he plays, are currently third in the league but its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left him in a difficult place.

“[…] it’s a difficult situation as it’s not vacation time and I’m not used to not playing football now in season time, it feels so weird,” said Nicholson in an interview with Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner.

The 23-year-old is keeping in shape while the league is suspended courtesy of a personal trainer and a programme the club has written for his daily exercise at home, but that is not enough.

“I’m in Charleroi and when you go out, you don’t see people outside, you hear no noise, nothing, it’s so weird. It has affected the whole country and, as we speak, it’s affecting the whole world and now it’s football season and there is no football, it’s just staying home and you get so tired of staying home, even though training is hard,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson had scored nine goals for Charleroi before the forced break, with just one player having scored more for his side.

There was just one game remaining in the regular season by the time COVID-19 fears put an end to football in Belgium, with Charleroi in third place, one point of a Champions League spot.

Nicholson wants the league to play that one remaining regular season game, even if there are no playoffs to come after.

“It would mean so much to me if the team should qualify automatically for the Champions League, it would mean a lot,” he said.

The man who has scored seven goals in 18 appearances for Jamaica believes that the re-start of all the leagues around the world will be tough because teams usually develop momentum along the way as the players become more match ready as the season progresses.

Because of the break, he says, there was no way of telling which teams would start quickly.   

Reggae Boy Tevin Shaw has become the third player from Jamaica to sign up for the newly formed Canadian Premier League.

Shaw will turn out for Atletico Ottawa after signing a two-year deal last Thursday.

The deal ended Shaw’s relationship with Jamaican Red Stripe Premier League outfit, Portmore United.

Before Shaw, Alex Marshall and Nicholas Nelson, were also announced as entrants to the league.

Shaw is hoping that his efforts with Ottawa will mean he finds his way into bigger markets down the line.

“Trying to one the standout players in my role and also be a leader; add few goals, few assists and continue to work my socks off to get a few more national call-ups and take it from there. (Also) to make the transition to a better set-up into the wider world because I aspire to play at the highest level,” said Shaw.

The Canadian Premier League has been suspended until April 11.

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