Burrell backs Boyz to overcome economic hurdles
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
Jamaica's football head, Captain Horace Burrell, has backed the Reggae Boyz to overcome the country's challenging economic situation and once again make their mark on the global game.
Burrell told CMC Sport that Jamaica, like many other Caribbean countries, were faced with the difficulty of financing their preparation for major tournaments and argued that the island's economic problems were perhaps more acute than their regional neighbours.
"One of the challenges that stops these countries from properly preparing themselves is the whole business of lack of financing," Burrell told CMC Sports in a recent exclusive interview.
"Jamaica has challenges like you do in other countries within the Caribbean, but I think our challenges are even more severe than others because we have a falling dollar. Currently the exchange rate to the US is just over $115 to one, and that is always going to be a huge challenge."
He added: "Despite all of that, we have the resolve to get it together and I do believe the Caribbean is going to be once again proud of Jamaica because we are a determined people."
The Reggae Boyz became the first ever English-speaking Caribbean side to qualify for a World Cup finals when they competed in France 1998.
Since then their star has faded somewhat. They managed to reach the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for Brazil 2014, but finished bottom of the group.
Later this year, they will launch their campaign to reach Russia 2018 and Burrell said he expected the Reggae Boyz to have a successful run.
"Football is the lifeblood, not cricket. This is not to say that we in Jamaica don't enjoy cricket, but football is the number one sport in the country," the veteran administrator said.
"Athletics is important as well ... but football is the heartbeat of the populace so I expect us to continue developing our football and I expect us to progress to an advanced stage."
Qualifying for CONCACAF nations kicks off next month, but Jamaica will not become involved until the third round in September when they, along with Haiti, meet the 10 winners from round two.