Sat | May 26, 2018

Follow the Trace | The Butler did it!

Published:Tuesday | October 10, 2017 | 12:14 AM
Jamaican Bayer Leverkusen forward Leon Bailey (right) celebrates his goal with teammate Kevin Volland during the German Bundesliga match against FC Schalke 04 at the Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, last month. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Craig Butler

Sparks continue to fly from yet another high- profile round of controversy ignited by enigmatic football personality Craig Butler, who's reported suggestion or request for his son Kyle to be invited to the national senior team, along with prize player Leon Bailey, is causing the stir. Butler has insisted it was not a demand but merely questions and suggestions. Nevertheless, resentment to the Phoenix Academy boss has intensified as the accusations continue to spiral about these and other alleged demands made of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the national coach.

If Craig Butler asked some questions and made some suggestions regarding player selection and team philosophy, what is so wrong with that? He can suggest and recommend all he wants, the final say remains with the JFF and the national coach. What's the fuss about? Butler is, after all, the agent and guardian for both of these young Jamaican players and has evidently attempted this strategy before, but just like we suspect, that KRC Genk did in Belgium, and we assume Bayer Leverkusen did in Germany, the Butler 'combo' was rejected. Similarly, Jamaica should or should not reject Butler's request depending on what the technical staff thinks of the quality of Kyle Butler. For things to have escalated into an insult-trading war of words, points to a total mismanagement of a very manageable situation.

Craig Butler has his many and major flaws like all of us, but let us, for the sake of football-resist the temptation to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. Butler's methods might be unconventional and unorthodox; he is certainly not the most politically correct in his utterances, but his belief in, and conviction to, the development of young Jamaican players is unquestionable, and this is quite refreshing in a climate where the Jamaican football leadership had long been heading in the completely opposite direction of running to England to beg and beseech second-rate players with questionable commitment to come and represent Jamaica.


Faith and vision


Butler's faith, vision and perseverance amidst the condemnation and criticisms of many detractors, and a myriad of adversities, has been rewarded with that breakthrough deal for his premier player, Leon Bailey. With the experience garnered, and contacts made along that storied journey, Craig Butler's experience and expertise must be of some value to Jamaica's football going forward.

Amid all the ego-driven and testosterone-fuelled quagmire, the Bayer Leverkusen forward Bailey is yet to make his debut for Jamaica and that is a pity. What would be an even bigger pity is if this current situation continues to be mismanaged and Jamaica ends up losing out on the services of Leon Bailey. In the wider scheme of things, an invitation to the national team to Kyle Butler is a small price to pay for securing the international future of Leon Bailey.

Kyle Butler, the biological son of Craig is a young creative midfielder playing professionally in the little known premier league in Malta. In a context where even schoolboys have gotten call ups to the national squad, even without the Leon Bailey attachment, there is no good reason why Kyle Butler could or should not get even an invite. National coach Theodore Whitmore himself has admitted the need to find creative players to complement the core he is currently moulding. It would be a travesty of justice if young Kyle was refused an opportunity to make an impression for his country because of the utterances and actions of his father. Whitmore should simply invite the younger Butler and have a look at him, if he is not good enough, he says 'thank you very much' and we move on.

Let us try to do what's best for Jamaica by focusing more on the message and try as best we can to ignore the messenger. Craig Butler is who he is: a creature of circumstances and a man who did what he did and did it his way. Let us not waste another precious opportunity because of personal feelings and pettiness. The focus must be on sorting out this mess and get Leon 'Chippy' Bailey donning the colours of the Reggae Boyz sooner rather than later. So what if THE BUTLER DID IT?