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Corbett wants greater opportunity for local 'ballers'

Published:Monday | February 29, 2016 | 2:00 AMLivingston Scott
Corbett (right) and Winston Chung-Fah.

Former Jamaica national football captain, the legendary and versatile Anthony 'Badas' Corbett, has a burning passion for the development of Jamaica's football and has longed to play a role in the advancement of the sport locally.

Recently, the former local idol has been afforded such an opportunity to make his contribution when newly appointed national Under-20 coaches, Craig Butler and Ricardo Gardner, invited him to share his experience and knowledge with the team.

Cargill, who captained the national team for six years and led the country to the Caribbean Cup in 1991 and their third-place Gold Cup finish in 1993 before retiring shortly afterwards, is presently the Under-15 coach of Miramar United Elite FC in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and one of his greatest desires is to see young Jamaican footballers make the transition from national youth teams into the senior side.

However, he believes lack of exposure, experience and quality facilities locally will continue to hamper the progress of young local talent and the sport's development in general.

"Jamaica's football has made a big jump because we qualified for World Cup. My only concern is, after the World Cup what did we achieve?" he queried.

"Normally, you should have a facility, because FIFA allocates money anytime a team goes to the World Cup. But the national programme doesn't have a facility and that is a setback. That (facilities) is where the game is going now, you need facilities to grow," he told The Gleaner.

 

LOCAL TALENT

 

However, of greater concern is the transition of our junior national players into the senior team. Corbett said there is too much focus on overseas-born players representing Jamaica, when all the talent we need is right here.

"In Jamaican football, if you play Under-17, by time you reach Under-20 they throw you away, and it's not that those players aren't good, but you need a ladder. Where is the feeder tree, why not invest in the youth level?

"But they don't invest in the Under-17s, the Under-20s and Under-23s, and that is sad really because exposure is what gives you experience.

"The senior team plays a lot of friendlies all over the world, but the young kids play local club, so where is the exposure and experience going to come from? So, that is lacking as they do not want to invest the money," Corbett bemoaned.

"At nine years and 10 years, we were the best in the world," he recalled. "(Winston) Chung-Fah proved that years ago when there was the Miami Classics and we won that every year, nine- to 12-year-olds. But after 12 (years), nothing, and I realise Jamaica doesn't invest in kids. Nobody wants to wait, everyone wants to plant a seed and reap tomorrow, but we will never go anywhere like that.

"The US team invests about US$6-7 million in their youths and our investment is worth about 50,000, still we match strides with them. So just give them a little more opportunity and expose them and they can do it," he continued.

With regard to his involvement, Corbett, who lives in Miami, is looking to contribute in any shape or form and to any of the other programmes. But he is also looking to learn as much as he can from two of the country's most successful local talents to make it professionally overseas.

 

MUTUAL RESPECT

 

"They (Butler and Gardner) have reached out to me and it's nice, even if it is just in a small capacity. To know you are respected by your fellow players who want you around is a good feeling. The beauty is (Craig) Butler and (Ricardo) Gardner are in charge of the Under-20s and they invited me to just to be around the team and give voluntary support and (share) the little experience I have.

"I will support the programme because they need sponsors, and I am willing to support them 200 per cent, just so they can give the youths experience," he reasoned.

Corbett also wants to assist the senior team one day and he is hoping this is just the start of his reconnection with local football and the national football programme.

"I don't really push myself up. But I don't have to be a coach around a national programme. Any capacity, anything I can do to help; that's why I am here, to help Butler and Gardner and anything that they need that we can do," he concluded.