Schäfer offers Powell chance to return
ALVAS POWELL has been handed a chance to return to Jamaica's men's senior national football team.
"The door is not closed," said Winfried Schäfer, head coach of the Reggae Boyz, in an interview with Jamaican journalists at the Miami International Airport on Monday evening, as the team made its way home from the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Powell walked away from the team after Jamaica won its group with maximum seven of nine points in Toronto, in July. The player had been threatening to walk out before the match they won 1-0 against El Salvador in Canada, then made the move the morning they were departing for their quarter-final match in Baltimore.
"I want to help him. This boy is very, very young, I don't want this boy's career to go down," Schäfer noted of the 20-year-old.
In making his decision, Powell defied the efforts of management, coaching staff and teammates, who tried to convince him to stay.
"I think he has one problem: He doesn't listen to people who want to help him. He made a big mistake," Schäfer said.
Powell had actually played against El Salvador as a substitute, and in that game, central defender Jermaine Taylor and goalkeeper Dwayne Miller picked up what turned out to be tournament-ending injuries, while midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson and striker Darren Mattocks were both sent off.
The walkout left the squad five players short for their quarter-final against Haiti, which they eventually won 1-0.
Asked about the possible backlash from players who believe he was a letdown, Schäfer said Powell must first approach the JFF and signal his intentions to return, then meet with the players.
"When he wants to play in the national team, he must make the first step, I won't go to Portland and ask him to come back," Schäfer emphasised. "Before we send the invitation, he has to talk, he has to talk with the players. I want him to talk to the team. He has to talk to the players, his team, his team first.
"What is important is the team. The best team is when you have the best bench."
At the time when Powell walked out, Schäfer had said he would not take him back. Now, the coach has said he likes the player and does not want the country to turn against him.
"I think he doesn't know what is the next step," said Schäfer, as he explained the public's reaction.
"I don't want him to have a problem in his country, I know the people are very proud.
"I don't think it's his decision, he's too young and does not think 100 per cent with his head," Schäfer added, noting that he provided personal assistance in developing the player both here and by travelling to his Major League Soccer club, Portland Timbers, where he spoke with the team's head coach there about ways to help him, and now he is a starting player.
"Alvas is a young player - 20 years. I like him very much. I helped him two years at Portland and in matches. In training he was better.
"We've to be more professional. This boy has to learn professional thinking in his head. A team is not 11 players, it's the entire squad."
Schäfer said the player should have been advised better by his agent, former Jamaica striker, Damani Ralph, who has been to several of the Gold Cup matches and has other players in the Jamaica squad on his roster.
"His manager must tell him 'Alvas you can't go'. His manager must give him better advice," the German said. "Jamaica needed him at the tournament. Alvas probably didn't know. His manager is to tell him that.
"First, my player is important, not my money," Schäfer said that should be the agent's approach, noting a policy he will look to implement going forward.
"When we have a tournament, I don't want to see a manager of a player in the hotel or the room."