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Seaga: Football is a great social remedy

Published:Saturday | June 6, 2015 | 12:00 AMMarc Stamp
Jamaica Football Federation president Captain Horace Burrell (third left) hands over the Red Stripe Premier League trophy to winning captain of Arnett Gardens FC Oneil Thompson (second right) during the awards ceremony at The Courtleigh Auditorium on Thursday night. The presentation party includes (from left) Dr Omar Davies, chairman of Arnett Gardens FC; Cedric Blair, managing director of Red Stripe; and Edward Seaga, chairman of the Premier League Clubs Association. Looking on are members of the Arnett team.

Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga believes that football is a 'great social remedy' that could be used to effectively build the nation in a positive way.

"Football is the number-one sport in the world. Football is the greatest social remedy. The sport is a very effective remedy," Seaga, who is chairman of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica and the Premier League Clubs Association, said while speaking at the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) presentation ceremony on Thursday night at the Courtleigh Auditorium.

He said in order to develop the sport effectively in Jamaica, football clubs need to start at the grass roots level.

"The younger the better, so the clubs must follow the lead of Harbour View in getting players from an early age group and putting them into a programme," he said.

With regards to recent revelations of corruption in world governing body FIFA, Seaga described that as "a period of turbulence. It won't be long before more fall into the hole. However, it takes a great man to come back."

"We hope that people are not in football for personal gain. Football is one way of gaining respect. We want when this turmoil is over, we come out better," Seaga, who celebrated his 85th birthday last month, said.


Consider small countries


FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced his intention to step down earlier this week, and Seaga urged the next leader to pay attention to developing football in the smaller countries, especially those like Jamaica and the Caribbean.

"The next president must not consider us small countries just to provide votes. The new leader must look at the small islands and provide facilities to make them successful. We want to develop the talent in the region.

"Football can do more than what athletics is doing for Jamaica. Football has helped the sponsors. It is the branding of Jamaica," Seaga stated.

Meanwhile, Arnett Gardens, who defeated Montego Bay United 2-0, in the RSPL final at the National Stadium on Monday night in front of an estimated 18,000 spectators, walked away with the winning trophy, $2.5 million and medals.

The Trench Town-based club also collected $1 million for the team that ended the preliminary stage on most points and trophies for team with most wins and the top-scoring team.

Arnett's coach Jerome Waite copped the coach of the year award. Captain of the winning team, Oneil 'Bigga' Thompson, captured the most valuable player (MVP) award, and Tony Burrowes copped player personality award.

The Junior player of the year was Shemar Nicholson of Boys' Town and the Fairplay award was won by Rivoli United.