Paul Wright | Tappa managed priorities well
Football, locally, is on a high as the popular schoolboy rural and urban competitions begin and our senior men's team, the Reggae Boyz, begin their quest to win a new Caribbean competition, the Concacaf Nations League. The 4-0 demolition of our neighbours, the Cayman Islands, augurs well for our chances as the quality of the opposition increases as the competition advances.
Praise cannot be too high for the coach of the senior men's team, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, who, when faced with the unprecedented task of marshalling 23 of our top footballers in two international games within 48 hours of each
other, a flagrant overruling of a FIFA mandate, responded with the aplomb of a seasoned professional.
When the friendly international against Ecuador was first announced, fans with knowledge of the physical and mental stresses associated with top-quality football planned a sustained media opposition to the move, only to be reassured by the governing body, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), that our concerns were misplaced as there would be two different squads for the two games.
This announcement coincided with Tappa's decision to turn down games close to the proposed September 9 start of the Nations League. Tappa reasoned that with the aim of Concacaf being to give participating teams more international games and affording the top teams in the competition to automatically qualify for the lucrative and prestigious Gold Cup, the Nations League required the best of a rested squad, combining the best of locally based players and those playing their football overseas. Therefore, the scepticism of our coach was well placed as the news of the friendly was confirmed. However, the talk of two squads soon disappeared as the date of the game neared. Eventually, it was announced that one squad would be used for the two games.
Whitmore, to my mind, skilfully remained silent as his voiced concern was pooh-poohed by the federation. What he did was to arrange the team selection in such a way that the reality of two international games in 48 hours would not medically affect the team or its chances for ultimate victory in the Nations League. Tappa was faced with a game in New Jersey, USA, in what was slated to be humid conditions, to be followed by a plane trip of approximately four hours to Jamaica, before facing the Cayman Islands. Jamaica were defeated 2-0 by Ecuador, with the South Americans registering seven shots on goal, with two successful, while Jamaica had two shots on goal for the entire match, but with none on target. So, after the rush to come home to play the Cayman Islands, the rested Corey Burke and Darren Mattocks both scored braces to lead the team to a comfortable victory in the first match of the league.
THE GAMES'S FINANCES
The financials associated with friendlies are not subject to public scrutiny, but the financials associated with prescribed official internationals are. The number of those who paid to attend the game against the Cayman Islands on Sunday may not be able to cover the expenses of putting on the game. It is therefore the hope of every Jamaican that the financial reward associated with the game against Ecuador will be used to offset the expected losses on Sunday. I do wonder, however if we, the public of Jamaica, will ever be able to fathom the reasoning behind the insistence of the JFF to play this game. All's well that ends well, as they say, but when will the wishes of the coach and medical experts coincide with the mandates of the federation? When?
The schoolboy football competitions got under way on Saturday with the defending Manning and daCosta Cup champions opening the defence of their titles in Montego Bay. Rusea's, the daCosta Cup champions, were impressive and look to fulfil the forecast of pundits who predict another positive year for the 'Russians'. A new-look Jamaica College, the Manning Cup champions, without their record-breaking and inspiring coach, Miguel Coley, were held by a tenacious Hydel High to a 1-1 scoreline. Drawing the first game of a competition does not spell trouble, but as the competition progresses, Jamaica College looks, at this point, to be fighting for a top four finish in the Manning Cup. Early days yet, but the season in both the Manning and DaCosta cups look mouth-watering. Let the games begin!