'A journey of success' - Downswell plans holistic approach for Olympic qualifying campaign
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) director of football, Wendell Downswell, says that the association will be taking a holistic approach to ensuring that the national Under-23 team qualifies for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Downswell told The Gleaner that the federation would be pulling out all the stops in a bid to secure qualification.
"We will have overseas camps, international practice games, and for the local version of the programme, we will streamline it against the national senior team and Premier League teams as part of the whole development to ensure that we have a comprehensive programme going forward," he said. "This will enable us to realise our goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. At the end of it, we should be able to say we have travelled a journey, and a journey of success," Downswell said.
He added that the JFF has selected a squad of 50 players, which will be reduced to 30 in 2019, after the conclusion of a development league competition that is set to begin in two weeks.
"When we look at the cadre of players that we have presently, we have at least 85 per cent of these players that are playing in the Red Stripe Premier League, and that is a step in the right direction for the development of Jamaica's football," he said.
The country's preparations for the qualifiers have been boosted by a donation of $8 million from the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) in February this year.
The money will be used to cover costs associated with training camps, practice games, nutritional support, transportation, and gear.
JFF President Michael Ricketts says that the federation will be doing all it can to ensure that the country qualifies for the next Olympic Games.
"This squad is filled with talent, and the JFF is intent on ensuring that we give them the best chance possible. With this in mind, we have had several discussions with a number of entities, including the JOA, and they have certainly come on board," said Ricketts. "We are very optimistic about this unit, and we will be putting everything in place to ensure that we qualify for the Olympic Games in 2020," he said.
Jamaica's Under-23 provisional 50-man squad:
Kimanie Arbouine, Oneil Anderson, Shaquiel Bradford, Shevon Richards, Orlando Brown, Gadail Irving, Kaheem Parris, Jamoi Topey, Jeadine White, Tevin Rochester, Nickache Murray, Nicque Daley, Bobby Brown, Demar James, Fancy-Hue Stewart, Coorland Harding, Timar Lewis, Nazime Natalie-Grant, Howard Morris, Deshane Beckford, Peter-Lee Vassel, Ricardo Dennis, Leonardo Fogarty, Michael Heaven, Odane Nish, Saneekie Burton, Venton Evans, Lamar Walker, Shai Smith, Chevany Willis, Ryan Whittingham, Akeem Chambers, Andre Leslie, Fitzroy Cummings, Leon Bailey, Kyle Butler, Chris Andrew-Dixon, Jamario Hines , Ricardo Coates, Neville Morgan, Fabian Grant, Javain Brown, Alex Marshall, Tevin Shaw, Shamar Nicholson, Kevon Lambert, Tyreek Magee, Sheldon McKoy, Ajeanie Talbott, and Tajay Griffiths.