Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Follow The Trace | Bailey was not ordinary, Mr Blaine, you were!

Published:Tuesday | February 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The now-confirmed pronouncement of the current director of football at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Vin Blaine, that it was his expert opinion three years ago that current Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey was an ordinary player in the context of a Jamaican Under-17 squad, is a poignant index of one of what has gone so destructively wrong with Jamaica's football in recent years.

Blaine can no longer deny that he made the asinine pronouncement as the recorded proof of his January 23 comments on the IRIE FM sports talk show What's The Score was reproduced and played on Hitz 92 FM's Sports Explosion for all of Jamaica and the world to hear. In this clip, he clearly contradicts himself, saying the words he so forthrightly claimed he did not say, as he concisely referred to Bailey, "he was an ordinary player, as far as I was concerned," leaving egg all over the face of Blaine.

This turn of events once again shows the myopia, incompetence and disdain regarding local talent that has characterised Jamaica's football leadership and stagnated the development of our young players over the years.

By all reports, Bailey had been light years ahead of his peers during his developmental years playing football in Jamaica. He won MVP awards for age group competitions while three years younger than the average age of these groups; he was top scorer and top player in under-13 competitions at 11; he was the stand out player at the under-15 level at 12 and 13. In a Jamaican context, Leon Bailey is an outstanding talent, not an average player.


Embarrassingly wrong


Blaine and the rest of the Jamaican football establishment have been proven to be absolutely and embarrassingly wrong, and deserve every ounce of criticism and heat they have been getting on this issue. Further and more damaging indictment of the JFF's flawed systems and short-sightedness came when young Bailey was taken into Europe and a year or two later numerous reputable football coaches, including former Holland international, Ronald De Boer, waxed lyrical about the quality of the young Jamaican. De Boer said that Bailey's speed in combination with his technique is rare, and that the young player had no weak points.

Top Belgian team KRC Genk eventually signed Bailey, where he created major waves in this established football powerhouse, before top German club Bayer Leverkusen forked out nearly £13 million to add the teenager to its roster. Blaine and the JFF should hang their heads in shame.

Blaine is perhaps unlucky to be attracting all the personal vitriol. After all, he is merely the victim of a flawed system and from an era of thinking that, to my mind, still does not respect the talent of Jamaican players as a whole, and are even less sold on young Jamaican players. The clichÈd rhetoric aside, the recent record is there for all to see.

The fulcrum of Jamaica's senior football programme has been the wholesale pursuit of England-born players who the federation routinely sought, and begged to represent Jamaica. If the Reggae Boyz had made it into the final round of World Cup qualifying, we would not be having this conversation. The exploits of Leon Bailey would quite likely be swept away by the JFF'S self-vindication for what they were doing.

It might well have been a blessing in disguise that the World Cup campaign derailed that early, in order to force the current progressive narrative and the actions of the structured development of young Jamaican players. The questions must be asked though: How many young and promising Leon Baileys have Jamaican football officials condemned as being ordinary, or worse, over the years? If Blaine remains a part of the technical leadership of the football, how many more potential Leon Baileys will he destroy and condemn as ordinary players?