Tue | Aug 21, 2018

Paul Wright | Gilbert should go

Published:Tuesday | October 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica's football is seeking a return to the days of victory at the "Office" and news of our local born stars doing well in leagues around the globe. Ever since the euphoria that enveloped the country after our so far lone appearance at the 1998 FIFA World Cup Finals, fans have yearned for good news whenever our football ambassadors/teams play.

Recent occurrences had given fans hope of a resurgence to the good ole days. The victory of new president Ricketts in what was a very interesting election battle with former KSAFA president Ambassador A.B. Stewart Stephenson and the commitment to continue to support present coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore of the nation's top men's team, the Reggae Boyz, fuelled that hope.

The women's game also seemed to be moving on up, and the nation had a very optimistic view of our trip to Haiti to play in what seemed to be a routine qualification for the CONCACAF Under-17 Championships next year. After all, in our group was Bermuda, arch rivals Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), and Puerto Rico. The top two teams would progress. Bermuda is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean with what cannot be described as "football pedigree". Puerto Rico, recently devastated by Hurricane Maria, had no power or running water for well over one month since the passage of the category four hurricane.

The loss to minnows Bermuda could have been put down to first-game jitters and a press report out of Haiti that quoted team trainer Harry Nelson as saying that our girls were the "fittest and fastest" of all the players on show in our group dampened any nervousness that that defeat to Bermuda caused us here at home.




Nelson also mentioned that after 55 minutes into the game against Bermuda, the Bermudans were literally on the ground crying for pain and cramps, while not one Jamaican complained! Ouch! Could it be that our girls were outcoached and outplayed by a team that with 35 minutes to go in a game where their opponents were "on the ground crying for pain and cramps?" That news did not augur well for our chances. The game against arch rivals T&T restored our hope as the girls responded from a 1-0 scoreline to decisively defeat the girls from the land of soca and calypso by 3-1. Thus, the game against Puerto Rico seemed to be just a formality. How could a team from a country, so devastated by Maria, (friends, family, and loved ones MUST have been adversely affected) be much of an opponent? After all, we were the defending champions, "the fittest and fastest" of all the girls on show in our group, and we were playing against a side that MUST have serious psychological distractions. Therefore in racehorse parlance: "soup"! Shockingly, we lost.

Out of the tournament, and our defeated coach was "pleased" with how our team performed! Well the fans of Jamaica's football are not "pleased" with how our girls performed, therefore, it follows as the night to day that the JFF needs to look seriously at the future of our young Reggae Girls. My take on this debacle is that our coach, Xavier Gilbert, needs to seek new employment as he tries to improve his coaching skills.

Finally, the news of a "hostile takeover" at Supreme Ventures that threatens the tenure of incumbent Chairman Paul Hoo and fellow board members has sent shivers down the spine of the stakeholders of Caymanas Park, the home of the island's sole racetrack. Since the divestment of the promoting company, the changes at the Park were timely, and, so far, well received. Coupled with the sudden and, to date, unexplained resignation of the Chairman of the Jamaica Racing Commission, Tony Shoucair, supposedly to take up a new and "better" position at Supreme Ventures, these impending changes leave the fans and stakeholders visibly apprehensive. It is highly unlikely that the present board of Supreme Ventures can successfully withstand the coup, so the hope is that the new board members will be slow to ring in changes to the makeup and management of the promoting company at the track, therefore continuing what seems to us to be a path to improved fan response and viability.