Laurie Foster | All protocols observed
Foster's Fairplay has trod this path before and is a bit perturbed that it needs to be addressed again. However, one is of the opinion that the point has to be pursued until the proper protocol is created and cemented. The authorities responsible for organising and operating sporting events continue to experience difficulty in getting the security aspect correct. Although the wider issue of crowd control, or its absence, continues to rage, the matter in question is the role of a security guard assigned to the gate- access area of a venue.
Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore is the current national head coach of the Reggae Boyz. Along with others on the team's staff, he should be accorded certain privileges to perform his various duties. It is only right that he should be accorded free access to any facility in the nation where the game is being played. As such, it is reasonable to assume that he would have been embarrassed, if only temporarily, when passage was recently denied by a security guard to enter a park where a schoolboy football match was scheduled.
Whitmore is not personally known to Foster's Fairplay, but reports from dependable sources, portray him as a mild-mannered individual the type not to make too much of the unfortunate incident. In keeping with this demeanour, the reports go on to say that he paid the entry cost and accessed the area from which he had been previously restricted.
First, it needs to be accepted for reasons already cited, that this incident involving Whitmore, should not have taken place. His position in the national football structure deserves far better consideration than what was afforded. Someone should take the blame and accept full responsibility for the faux pas.
Foster's Fairplay looks back at a similar incident at the nation's cricket headquarters, Sabina Park, a few years ago. West Indies fast bowling icon, Courtney Walsh, a former world record holder, was barred from entering a stand, which, ironically, was named in his honour in commemoration of his outstanding deeds on the field of play. The security guard in question then was put under tremendous pressure for failure to recognise the "big man" and do the expected. The same charge is now being levied at the Tappa stopper, albeit with reduced intensity. Some, in their ignorance, are calling out for a termination of employment. How silly can we get?
Allowing unfettered access to a celebrity at any event, sporting or otherwise, should not depend on whether he or she is recognised by a security guard.
One is confident that the hierarchy of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is familiar with the accreditation procedures for major events and who is eligible for the receipt of same.
That is the area where the buck must stop.
As was ruled in the Walsh case, the governing body should decide who qualifies for that special treatment and allow them to have it on a long-term basis, empowering them to access football wherever a game is on.
In Whitmore's case, he needs to view the available talent, regardless of at which individual venue it is on display. The view, as expressed by some experienced sports journalists, that the coach should call ahead anytime he is going to a game to pre-warn the authorities of his intended arrival is utter garbage. This only puts undue burden on the coach and leaves no room for a spur-of-the-moment decision, to which he is entitled.
Let the JFF understand that this role of granting credentials for easy movement in and out of match areas, is the responsibility of its secretariat or any other office they may choose under its roof. It is time it acted professionally in these matters, and not allow its genuine officials to have to suffer the inconvenience of negotiating barriers that are put in the way of persons who have contributed in the way Whitmore, and others like him, indisputably have.
Or has it not learnt anything from its experiences when it ventures overseas?