Sat | Apr 29, 2017

Use local talent

Published:Tuesday | May 12, 2015 | 5:00 AMDr Paul Wright

The squad for the Copa America football tournament in Chile from June 11, 2015 to July 4, 2015 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup from July 7 to July 26, 2015, has been announced by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Twenty-eight players were named and, from all accounts, this seems to be a very strong squad, one which should give a good account of themselves and Jamaica in both tournaments.

I do not suppose that there are many Jamaicans who expect our Reggae Boyz to win these tournaments. The exposure, however, of these representatives of our little island to be on the field playing against the best footballers on this side of the world, can never be under estimated. I am glad for those selected.

The governing bodies of international sports for athletics, football and cricket, have allowed countries to utilise the skills of sportsmen and sportswomen from other countries to represent nations whose own born-and-bred citizens are deemed not good enough to represent the country of their birth. As a result, international sports now feature athletes who are not able to represent their own countries, switching allegiance to other countries and, in essence, denying true nationals from getting a chance to represent 'Yard'!

My own personal idea of international competition being the best of ours versus the best of yours now seems to be 'old hat' and ancient. This great imperative to win, no matter what, has trumped my idea of international competition.

In cricket, the inventors of the game, England, now find it impossible to beat 'mediocre' teams, while born-and-bred Englishmen can only watch from the stands as nationals of Barbados, Australia, South Africa, etc. sing God Save the Queen, while contemplating another defeat!

In football, the world's best league (most competitive), the English Premier League, has very few Englishmen playing for the top clubs, therefore, when teams are forced to select bona fide citizens as in the World Cup, England can only hope to be competitive in the first round.

Jamaica's only visit to the World Cup was on the backs of Jamaicans who learnt and honed their skills in other countries, never to return to Jamaica to assist in the development of Jamaica's football when our participation in the tournament ended.

In athletics, a husband-and-wife team of hurdlers represent the USA and Great Britain, because one member of the family was not able to qualify (by time) to represent the USA. Therefore, a hurdler in Great Britain, born and bred, is denied an Olympic spot, to give Great Britain a chance at a medal, as medals are now the currency of success at the Olympics. I could go on and on.

The fact that only two members of Jamaica's squad for the Copa America and the Gold Cup live and play football in Jamaica rubs me the wrong way, especially when I can see Jamaicans representing us who probably know Jamaica from tourist brochures.

Give talented ballers a chance

I do believe that there are, at present, footballers in Jamaica who, if only given a chance, would surprise the hierarchy of the JFF and most important, would be in Jamaica at the end of their careers to assist in the improvement and development of local football.

As it now stands, our local ballers must save every penny that they earn to assist in purchasing television sets to watch Jamaica play international football.

Finally, the sport of Kings - horse racing.

The abandonment of the racemeet last Saturday after five races of a nine-race card, came after some of the stakeholders, owners and jockeys, decided that enough was enough and refused to continue due to the terrible conditions during races because of dust and wind.

The response of the promoting company, Caymanas Track Limited, is to call an urgent meeting of the stakeholders for one day this week.

This is the same promoting company which, last Wednesday, provided dust masks and other protective equipment for the starting gate crew and tractor drivers, while ignoring the pleas of the stakeholders to do something!

Racing cannot continue like this. The management and board of directors seem to be blithely unaware of the unsafe conditions that prevail. The report from stakeholders that exercise one morning was held up because a truck had run out of diesel oil the previous evening and had not moved from its position on the track until late the following morning dramatises the plight of the stakeholders.

The company must be divested to those with the necessary financial wherewithal and expertise to make a success of promoting horse racing. It can be done. All it needs are people in charge who stand to lose their own funds, when maintenance of infrastructure is deemed unimportant.

The Government cannot continue to subsidise this sport, in the light of the present International Monetary Fund (IMF) dictates. Over to you, Minister Phillips.