The standard of football coaching in Jamaica looks set to increase over the next few years thanks to the formation of the Wray & Nephew School of Football Coaching.

This partnership between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and Wray & Nephew is a part of the Wray & Nephew Football Program and will oversee the training of 500 coaches at the Preparatory and Primary School level across Jamaica at the D-license level.

This comprehensive training will certify coaches in order for them to operate at all levels including at International standard fostering a new era of football excellence in Jamaica.

This initiative will also involve the renovation of the existing school of football located at the University of the West Indies.

“I’m very happy to introduce the Wray & Nephew School of Football Coaching,” said Managing Director at J. Wray & Nephew Ltd, Jean-Philippe Beyer last Thursday announcing the partnership at the brand’s headquarters in Kingston.

JFF Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid, who is also the head coach of Jamaica Premier League champions Cavalier SC, is pleased about the continued effort to develop coaches in the country.

“This is a welcome sponsorship to the program. Three years ago, we didn’t have a C-licensed coach in Jamaica. Now, we have five A-licensed coaches and another six are doing their studies. There will be an A-licensing course starting on July 9 with approximately 20 local coaches in that class,” he said.

“We now have 100 B-licensed coaches in Jamaica, 200 C-licensed coaches and over 500 D-licensed coaches but those coaches were really building from the top. We have now embarked on a very ambitious program with the help of Wray & Nephew and the SDF (Sports Development Foundation) to certify 500 coaches at the Primary and Preparatory School level across Jamaica at the D-license level and then bring them up to the C-license level by July 2025,” he added.

Speid also emphasized the importance of developing a good coaching education program.

“If you look at it, all the national teams that do well, in Europe and South America for example, have the best coaching education programs in the world. That is what we are trying to emulate here in Jamaica,” he said.

Also on hand was President of the Jamaica Football Federation, Michael Ricketts, who thanked Wray & Nephew for continuing to invest in the country's football development.

"We just want to form an alliance as we try to move the sport forward and this is no ordinary announcement. This is what we're asking corporate Jamaica to do as part of building this nation of ours," he said.

Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, the hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, also played a hand in the formation of the school of coaching through her ministry.

“We continue to strengthen our sporting culture by investing in sports and this includes providing and increasing access to quality education for our coaches,” she said.

“When private sector companies and Government partner in sports, sustainable growth and improvement in all levels become the key input,” she added.

The ties between Jamaica’s football and corporate Jamaica got stronger on Thursday as well-loved brand Wray & Nephew unveiled plans for a newly minted Wray & Nephew Football Programme.

The programme, inspired by the longstanding partnerships with the island’s most impactful sporting competitions, was developed to foster the technical advancement of football in Jamaica, with a special emphasis on coaching education and bolstering the journey of the Reggae Boyz and Reggae Girlz towards the World Cup.

The investment will be to the sum of approximately $200 million over the next three years.

“The Wray and Nephew Football Program has been created to support our commitment to advance football in Jamaica. To that effect, we have decided to increase and widen our support and investment in the beautiful game,” said Jean-Philippe Beyer, Managing Director at J. Wray & Nephew.

“Supporting football from grassroots programs to professional leagues is a privilege for us and I say this because, through this partnership, we are not only seeing the triumphs of our players and our coaches, we are also seeing the positive impacts their achievements have on their families and communities,” he added.

In addition to being the title sponsors of both the JPL and Major League, Wray & Nephew will also be the official spirit of the senior Reggae Boyz and Reggae Girlz, supporting them in their dream of qualifying for the World Cup.

Beyer also announced that Wray & Nephew are in the process of directly sponsoring some stadiums.

“We are still in discussions with a number of them but tonight I can announce that we are at the contract stage with Ferdi Neita Park and Waterhouse Mini Stadium,” he said.

Ferdi Neita Park is the home of Portmore United while Waterhouse Mini Stadium houses Waterhouse FC.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts, who was also on hand on Thursday, has always pleaded for corporate Jamaica to get more involved in the country’s football and he was understandably elated that Wray & Nephew has done just that.

“When we get a positive response from our daily calls from corporate Jamaica to come on board and help us use the sport of football to socially impact the well-being of boys and girls in this country, I am absolutely delighted,” he said.

The Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, recognised the importance of the partnership between corporate Jamaica and sport.

“This evening, we add another to the many partnerships between Jamaican companies and sporting bodies, communities and the Government over the years,” she said.

“This partnership with a Jamaican-born company, J. Wray & Nephew Ltd, is a cause for celebration because, not only are we stronger together, but this partnership also highlights our shared passion for football and our vibrant sporting culture which, together, have brought so much joy to our people,” she added.

 

 

Using the famous Chinese proverbs "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” as his mantra, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Hubert Busby Jr is focused on leading the country’s women’s programme to new heights with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.

By all indications, the sexual misconduct controversy that marred, and eventually ended his previous tenure as Head coach in 2021, is now firmly in Busby’s rearview mirror, as he was cleared of any wrongdoing by FIFA. He has since replaced the past events with a firm focus on success and progress, as he strives to breathe new life into the senior Reggae Girlz setup.

"As you can imagine, it has been a little bit of a whirlwind, but in everything, you just want to make sure you're giving yourself the best opportunity to be successful. Me being successful means giving the players and the programme the best chance to be successful, so that's where it's at, and I just need to focus on that. What occurred in the past is neither here nor there for me anymore,” Busby, who is currently in the island, told SportsMax.TV.

While his reappointment may come as a surprise to many, for Busby it was a matter of letting fate take its course.

“I wouldn't know if it was surprised. I think I've always…even through this (controversy of the past), I think I've always had a good relationship with the federation, and I understood their rationale and reason why they needed to do what they did. I do wish we could have obviously cleared some things up a lot sooner, but in everything I realized it's not my timing, it is God's timing, and this was just the right time,” he shared.

Despite his familiarity with the players, Busby pointed out that the approach will be one of new beginnings as opposed to picking up where he left off, as the programme itself has been through some turbulent times since his departure.

After Busby was sidelined, Vinimore ‘Vin’ Blaine took over for a short time before a scathing letter from the players forced his resignation, after which Lorne Donaldson was brought back and led the Girlz to an historic appearance in the knockout stage at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, before he too departed, as the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) opted not to renew his contract.

Since then, the JFF and members of the World Cup squad had been at loggerheads, and that eventually resulted in Ambassador Cedella Marley resigning her post out of frustration, and she pulled the support of Bob and Rita Marley Foundation with her. Still, the players held firm in their stance and withdrew their services over non-payment and mistreatment from the JFF.

Then came the interim appointment of Xavier Gilbert, who lead an inexperienced team through a failed Gold Cup qualifying campaign and a few other fixtures.

Now, with Gilbert still to serve as his assistant, and the World Cup players back in the fold after almost nine months, coupled with his reappointment, Busby views the cycle as an opportunity for all and sundry to start afresh.

"It's the beginning of a new cycle, obviously, the Girlz created history at the last World cup and accomplished something that the country and all Jamaicans should be proud of. But really, it's about a new beginning, and with that comes new expectations and a new level of commitment that's needed both on and off the field to ensure that we have success,” Busby declared.

“The first step to every relationship is to have clear and open lines of communication and transparency. I think that's where it starts. We are not always going to agree with everything, but there has to be a common line where we're doing the best we can for the programme and the best we can for the people of Jamaica. That should be the guiding principle on which we go forward, but it's going to require a lot of work to ensure that we are communicating and operating at a very high level to ensure that the programme concedes full potential,” he added.

As he sets his sights on finalizing his technical staff, as well as to work with the JFF to iron out any kinks, Busby also expressed confidence in the potential and talent pool of the women’s programme to continue on the path to success.

“There's no doubt that we have a great core of players, and there are also some really young players that emerged in the last nine months that really need to be considered and there are other players that we've been monitoring as well. So, I think the next few windows are really about continuing to evaluate the pool of players to ensure that we're putting together a truly cohesive team that can go into the World cup qualifiers,” the former national goalkeeper reasoned.

 “I think familiarity, obviously would have played a key role in my reappointment for sure. I think this way it allows for the foundational pieces to be built on, because it is important that we continue to build and grow. But above everything else, knowing what the players can do, knowing who they are, and understanding how we can get the best out of them are some things that I want to continue to work on. So, we're looking forward to utilizing each and every window to get ready for 2025,” he noted.

That said, Busby could not have asked for a higher calibre opponent than Brazil as first assignment to hit the ground running. The tactician and his team are set to depart the island next Sunday for the South American nation where they will engage a two-match friendly series on June 1 and June 3.

Both teams crossed path at the 2019 and 2023 World Cups where Brazil won the first meeting 3-0, while the Girlz battled gallantly for a goalless stalemate last year which booked their spot in the Round of 16. However, Busby will be without prolific striker Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw and winger Kalyssa 'Kiki' Van Zanten due to injury, while young attacker Solai Washington, who was a part of the World Cup squad, misses out on this occasion.

“That Brazilian team now has also gone through a tremendous restructuring, they've gone relatively young, but they've also kept some really important players because I think Marta is still there until the end of the year, through the Olympic Games. But they have a lot of talented young players in their system, and they're hungry and dynamic as well, so these two games will pose a lot of questions for us, and I must say I've been impressed with what the new coach has been able to do with them already,” the tactician said as he assessed the opponents.

“So, for us, I think the idea is, therefore, to try to keep things a little simple. We're going to do the best we can to get our players up to speed in the time that we have them. But this is really the first step in what will be a journey.

“Obviously, we'll go out there to be competitive, it goes without saying that we've got all these tremendous athletic qualities as a nation, but being able to keep the ball a bit more and be able to dictate the tempo a bit more is something that we want to be able to improve on. But it really is about focusing on the process of getting better each and every camp and every, each and every time that we're together,” he ended.

Hubert Busby Junior has been reappointed as Head Coach of the Jamaica Senior National Women’s Team, the Jamaica Football Federation announced in a statement on Friday.

This is Busby's second stint with the team, having held the position from 2020 to 2021.

He was removed from the position when the JFF requested FIFA to investigate unsavory media reports originating in Europe. FIFA subsequently cleared Busby.

“The Jamaica Football Federation is pleased to announce that after careful consideration and due process, our technical committee has recommended the immediate reappointment of Hubert Busby as head coach of the Senior Women's National Team,” the JFF said in Friday’s release.   

“Based on his vast experience and knowledge of the squad, we think he is the perfect individual to take the team through the next stage of its development,” it continued.

Xavier Gilbert, who was acting in the role of Head Coach since October 2023, will revert to his previous role as assistant coach.

Busby's first task will be to take charge of the 23-member squad which will play two international friendlies against Brazil on June 1 and June 4 in Brazil.    

Eighteen members of the group for the two games were members of Jamaica’s history-making 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup squad, while former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey makes a return to the team which is missing prolific striker Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw and Kalyssa 'Kiki' Van Zanten due to injuries.

The squad is set to depart for South America on May 26. 

Squad: Chantelle Swaby, Konya Plummer, Jade Bailey, Denesha Blackwood, Kayla McKenna, Allyson Swaby, Drew Spence, Atlanta Primus, Vyan Sampson, Peyton McNamara, Page Bailey-Gayle, Trudy Carter, Kameron Simmonds, Tiffany Cameron, Sydney Schneider, Rebecca Spencer, Niya Cardoza, Liya Brooks, Amelia Van Zaten, Jody Brown, Israela Groves, Davia Richards, Lauren Reid

  

For the first time in almost nine months, it seems as if Jamaica’s interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert will have members of the World Cup squad at his disposal, when they visit Brazil for a two-match friendly international series in June.

The Girlz, who first locked horns with Brazil, and lost 0-3, at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, went one better at last year’s global showpiece in Australia, as they not only held the South American giants to a goalless stalemate, but also ensured their elimination at the group stage.

By all indications, that performance, and by extension, the fact that the Girlz made an historic appearance in the knockout stages of the World Cup, earned them even more respect from the number 10-ranked Brazilians, who are currently in preparation for this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

The games, scheduled for June 1 and 4, are expected to assist Brazil in their preparation, while the now 42nd-ranked Jamaicans will get a much-needed test to regain their appetite for international competition, having last sported the nationals colours against Canada last September.