Thu | May 25, 2017

We gave as good as we got

Published:Tuesday | June 23, 2015 | 6:00 AMDr Paul Wright, Contributor
Jamaica's captain Rodolph Austin in action against Uruguay on Saturday, June 13.

When the squad for Jamaica's foray into the Copa America competition (for the first time, ever) was announced, no one in the world thought that Jamaica would win the tournament.

After reading and listening to 'experts' in the print and electronic media, the impression given by the vast majority of these men, was that the tournament would be used to gauge the players selected for the Copa America, with a view to selecting the best squad available, to propel us to as far as we can go in the Gold Cup, which follows later this summer.

I agreed with their assessment. Jamaica were eliminated from the tournament, failing to win or even score a goal in the three matches played. No surprise there. The big surprise was that in the three matches played by the Reggae Boyz, Jamaica gave as good as we got. In the game against Paraguay, every Jamaican felt that we could have at least got a draw. Not bad for a team thrown into a group containing two (recent) previous winners of the tournament and the mighty Argentina.

It is indeed odd to be praising a team that lost every game they played and failed to score a goal, but coach Winfried Sch‰fer, his support team, and the players themselves deserve all the kudos that have been coming their way.

All the players selected to play by Coach Sch‰fer played well. My only regret is that more locally based players did not get a chance to parade their skills on the fields of Chile. I have spent the better part of the last week trying to find out if the fans of Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina were cheering players on their national team who were not born in the country that they represent, or even worse, never played any football in Uruguay, Paraguay or Argentina. I was unable to detect any such player playing for any of these South American teams. This is not to suggest that Jamaica broke any international rules by fielding the teams that suited up for the three games.

The rules regarding nationality are so blurred now that what we see now is the norm. The English cricket team contains as many players born outside of England as those who are home bred. The 100-metre record for men in Asia and Europe are all held by Nigerians who were born in Nigeria but competed for other nations. The Asian 100 metres record of 9.91 seconds is held by Femi Ogunode, who ran as a Qatar national in 2010. The European 100-metre record is held by Francis Obikwelu, who ran as a Portuguese national in 2004. His time of 9.86 still stands today. Luckily (and unusually), the African 100-metre record of 9.85 is held by a Nigerian, Olusoji Fasuba, who competed as a Nigerian in 2006!

 

'National' players

 

So, who competes as a national player in today's modern world of sport seems to be anyone who finds it impossible to make the team of his birth country, or anyone who convinces another nation with more cash and resources than his own country to use him/her in order to WIN! What has happened to the maxim of international competition being the best of ours versus the best of yours?

Our Sunshine Girls swept Barbados 3-0 in a set of Tests held here in Jamaica this past weekend. Congratulations are in order not only for the team and the coaching staff, but to the administrators of Netball Jamaica who allowed a Caribbean neighbour to play against a vastly superior team, thus hoping to somehow improve their game. Just as how the administrators of the Copa America allowed Jamaica to play against some of the best in the world, and the administrators of world cricket allow the West Indies to play against Australia in cricket, these magnanimous gestures augur well for sport in general.

I hope that Barbados learned something from the mauling received in the three games played last weekend. I hope that the West Indies cricket team learnt something from the mauling they received at the hands of Australia in the recent two-match series. Did we learn anything from our foray in the Copa America? We will find out when we assess our performance in the Gold Cup later on.