Sat | Jan 25, 2020

The man with the plan - Ricketts backs Whitmore for World Cup 2022 goal

Published:Saturday | December 14, 2019 | 12:21 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica Football Federation President Michael Ricketts (left) presents national senior men’s team head coach Theodore Whitmore with his Concacaf B Licence certificate at a press conference held at the federation’s headquarters in New Kingston yesterday.
In this file photo from Friday, June 26, 1998, Jamaica’s Theodore Whitmore bears down on goal during their FIFA World Cup Group H match against Japan. Whitmore scored both goals in the Reggae Boyz’s 2-1 win.
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Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts has publicly reiterated his belief that national senior men’s team head coach, Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore, will lead the Reggae Boyz to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking at the launch of the president’s annual football veterans’ fundraiser and presentation of the Concacaf B Licence certificates to 19 coaches at the JFF headquarters yesterday, Ricketts said he has no intention of looking overseas for a coach.

“Our men’s senior coach stands out and I have given him all the assurance that we have no intention of going overseas for any coach,” he said.

“So the onus is now on him to work with the coaches around. So I am saying to Coach Whitmore, ‘The onus is on you, sir, because we are going to the World Cup and we are going with a local coach and with a nucleus of local players.’

“But I don’t believe that we should always run overseas (for coaches) when it’s World Cup qualifying time.”

André Waugh, Caribbean development manager for Concacaf, who also participated in the course, endorsed Ricketts’ comments and his vision of a Jamaica team being led and inspired by locally developed coaches and players.

“I wish to endorse the president’s support for Coach ‘Tappa’ Whitmore,” he said. “I support that the future of Jamaica’s football should be in the hands of Jamaicans. And from where I sit, I will continue to give as much support as I can to ensure that our dream of going to the World Cup is a reality. And not just to return to the World Cup, but return to the World Cup with a team that is coached by a Jamaican, coached by a player from the original team that went to the World Cup in 1998 and that is huge for us.”

CAREER HIGHLIGHT

Whitmore’s career highlight came at that tournament where he scored both goals in Jamaica’s 2-1 win over Japan, the only ever win by an English-speaking Caribbean nation at that level.

“But the national team and national coach is not just one coach and 20 players. All [local] coaches have to form a part of that bigger picture if the game is to grow, improve and meet all the objectives. So we have to take it seriously and this (Concacaf) course is really about providing the tools that will help us to enhance our abilities,” Waugh said.

Ricketts says the JFF is in the initial stages of implementing a programme that will get local coaches to work together and develop a national philosophy.

“Whitmore and Wendell Downswell (director of football), on a monthly basis, they will bring in all the coaches for discussions and this is a part of a process to get us to coach the same way and understand each other. We are also going to expand the course so we can bring in high-school coaches, so we can start the process of learning to coach as one,” he said.

Meanwhile, JFF launched its annual president’s fundraiser, set to take place on January 1, at York Oval in St Thomas. The event will be in aid of the JFF football veterans welfare programme, which will give assistance to former national players and outstanding individuals who have fallen on hard times.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com