Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) director of football, Wendell Downswell, believes the continued absence of the country’s youth football programs and competitions will have a devastating impact on the sport over the next few years.

All official football competitions across Jamaica have been shuttered since March of last year, as the island battled to come to grips with the spread of the deadly coronavirus.  Included in that list are the island’s Premier League competition and all high school football competitions.

Both competitions typically cater to the need of developing players Under 21 years old who are selected for youth national teams and even acquire scholarships to overseas colleges through them.  

With the recent decision by FIFA to postpone the 2021 U-17 and U-20 World Cup and CONCACAF’s decisions to postpone the respective qualifiers, things are essentially at a standstill.

“You won’t see it immediately but in years to come, probably starting in 2023, you will see the results as it relates to our youth football itself,” Downswell told Football GPS.

“Youngsters if you look at it, in three categories, in four categories, at high school you have the U-14, Under-16 and of course the Manning Cup and DaCosta Cup.  At the parish level, you have the Under-15 competition, at the club level, you have the Under-14 competition that takes on an international flavor.  If you look from there you make the transition into the Under-15, Under-17, and the Under-20 national teams and you are looking at both sets of national teams, male and female," he added.

"If we look at it from the perspective that the schoolboy football competition has been abandoned because of COVID, you know the schoolboy competition provides us with a means to identify talent at both the schoolboy level and club level and when that’s not forthcoming it put a damper on our football.”

 

 

 

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