'Opening doors' - Fuller looking to create opportunities for young players
Digicel schoolboy football ambassador, Ricardo Fuller, said he was extremely impressed with the local talent on show in the competition this season. He has, however, warned that transitioning from that level to European club football, remains a difficult prospect for the island's young footballers.
The former Stoke City forward noted that current requirements for work permits in England and increasing restrictions in other European territories add another dimension of difficulty for young Jamaican players looking to get an opportunity on that side of the world. He, however, pointed to Scandinavia as a solid route for young locals.
Fuller revealed he is working with another former Reggae Boy, England-based sport agent Daryl Powell, to create opportunities for local players in Europe. He is also working to get members of the Digicel All Stars XI on trial with his former Club Stoke.
"It was a great schoolboy season. The Manning Cup match was something, even the daCosta Cup final was something else because with 10 men, Clarendon won. It has been tremendous, every player selected is worthy of their position. They were all impressive," he noted, in reference to his own personal selections.
"But right now coming straight from Manning Cup or out of the national under-20 programme and going into professional football in Europe, it is really difficult. It's a massive chance, but it's far-fetched, (even though) they have so much potential and raw talent. But it is so far-fetched because you have to have teams willing to take them on trial for them to have a chance. We have players with great potential and ability, but how do we get them there? In the past, we moved a few players, and Darryl Powell was instrumental.
"But now, we have to look to Scandinavian countries, because they (local players) cannot leave from the under-20 and go for a trial in England. The new ranking system is causing a problem for those players to progress from Manning and daCosta Cup to another level," Fuller said.
Fuller is already in discussions with the Stoke City's chairman, and he said that anything was possible after that.
"I was 18, 19 (years old) when I went to England. A few of us - Claude Davis, Jermaine Johnson, from the under-20 - we went straight into England. There were no criteria then, but I see that ability in players like Norman Campbell, Chantamoi Taylor, Cheva Denton, and Treyvon Reid. I have spoken to Stoke City, personally, and the respect they have for me is second to none, and I want to give them (Digicel All Stars XI) a two weeks experience and exposure there. It is going to be difficult for them (to get a contract) because of the work permit situation, but it will give them exposure and that will boost them. I know because of what it did for me back then, and I think it will do the same for these guys," Fuller stated.
In order to automatically qualify for a work permit in England, Jamaica players must play a certain percentage of the country's international games, and the island must maintain a top-50 spot in the FIFA rankings. The percentage is calculated over a one-year period for under-21 players. Jamaica is currently ranked 54th.
Orville Smikle (STGC); Richard Thompson (JC); Giovanni Laing (Camperdown); Jordan Peterkin (STGC); Emelio Rousseau (STGC); Casseam Priestly (KC); Cheva Denton (STGC); Philon Lawrence (Holy Trinity); Damani Harris (STGC); Noman Campbell (JC); Chantomoi Taylor (STGC).