Western Confed target youth for football revival
Linnel McLean, president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Western Confederation, while admitting to the state of flux that has beset football in western Jamaica for the better part of a decade, says that strategies are in place to improve the game in that part of the island, beginning with a possible restructuring of youth programmes.
He was responding to queries on the heels of regional champions Granville FC's failed bid to qualify for the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL). Granville ended the play-offs without a single point from six matches.
In 2014-15, Sandals Whitehouse failed almost as badly in their attempt at qualification and before that, former champions Wadadah FC also failed in their bid to return to the Premier League.
"We have been noting, for example, the relatively poor quality of football throughout the confederation and have taken steps to address some of these issues," McLean said.
Restructuring of clubs
One key component is the restructuring of clubs in order to offer a better youth football programme as its core function, which also includes acquiring greater levels of sponsorship, the transitioning of players from high school into the various clubs, and the always-topical poor state of fields across western Jamaica.
The RSPL champions, Montego Bay United (MBU), are the only western-based club in the top flight, a far flung from the heady days when teams such as Wadadah FC, Reno FC, Seba United (now MBU) and Violet Kickers were mainstays of the league.
"Those were wonderful years, but a number of factors were at play. One such was that each club had serious means of cash injection, where the better teams and the best players in Jamaica were being paid handsomely by those clubs," McLean explained.
"It was a time when owners of these clubs were awash with money, to the extent that when they were (forced) to leave the system, the change took with it the brighter, more skilful players and as time went by, KSAFA began reshaping the football landscape," McLean said.
These external changes, McLean suggested, bore serious implications for football in Western Jamaica, reasoning that, to some extent, many have not recovered.
However, with the plans afoot to reinvigorate football out west, McLean thinks that it is a matter of time before the door is once again flung open for western-based clubs becoming an even greater force in the Premier League.