JFF academy on track
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) general secretary Raymond Grant says that the FIFA Forward Programme, under way at the Football Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI), should be completed by the end of the year, as long as everything goes to plan.
The FIFA Forward Programme is a partnership between football's world governing body and the JFF, which will see the construction of a dormitory complex to accommodate national teams. This will include 24 double, occupancy rooms for teams, two rooms for staff, a dining area, a lounge, a reception and catering facilities.
Grant said that once the project is completed, how it is used is important to how the sport goes forward in Jamaica.
"It all depends on how you structure your programme, which speaks to how long these players participate in the programme, in the facility," he said.
He told The Sunday Gleaner that the project, when completed, would accommodate more than just players learning the game.
"Coaching will be done there, lecturing. Anything to do with the technical development of the national programme will centre around the facility," he said.
"There is always an urgent need to develop your technical programme and it's a revolving process - it never ends. The football, over time, continues to grow, and once there's the need, I wouldn't say it is overdue, but at the same time, it is a necessary cog in our wheel in terms of driving the growth and development of the sport."
Under the programme, FIFA says it grants the JFF a basic figure of US$100,000 yearly, but it can receive an additional annual funding of US$50,000 for fulfilling other criteria requested by FIFA to develop football in Jamaica. Of these, two must specifically focus on women's football.
JA FOOTBALL PHILOSOPHY
Many local football administrators have called for a project of this kind, as they believe it can help to not only develop young local players, but also create what they describe as a "Jamaican football philosophy". This, they say, would be done through creating a style of play unique to Jamaican players. How this would be achieved is by having players housed in an academy at an early age. There, they would gain an education both in football and academics while playing at various age-group levels until they are ready for senior national team selection.
Former FIFA president Joseph 'Sepp' Blatter first broke ground for the academy in Portmore, St Catherine, 14 years ago, but Captain Horace Burrell, who was president at the time, was voted out of office shortly after and replaced by Crenston Boxhill. Boxhill then moved the project from Portmore to Malvern, St Elizabeth. After returning to office in 2007, Burrell decided on a change in location once more and, as such, the Football Centre, which is currently situated at the UWI Mona Campus, was developed seven years ago.