Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Boyz’s training held up by visas

Published:Friday | October 23, 2020 | 12:14 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz in a training session at the UWI/JFF/Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus, on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.
Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz in a training session at the UWI/JFF/Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus, on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.
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Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts says that pending final approval of protocols from the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), the senior national men’s team camp ahead of the November friendlies against Saudi Arabia will begin as soon as players receive their visas.

The camp was to start in August but was postponed as health protocols were not yet approved by authorities. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the island created further uncertainty.

The players are expected to assemble at the UWI/JFF/Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at The University of the West Indies, Mona. However, Ricketts says that because of the visa applications for some players to travel to Saudi Arabia via England for the friendlies, the decision was made not to start training until all players have completed their appointments.

Ricketts says that appointments have been booked until next Thursday and that because of the intention to operate the camp in a biosecure environment, it would not be practical to assemble the squad at the moment.

“The last date is [October 29] for a visa application,” Ricketts said. “We were hoping to start the camp before that, but coming out of the meeting, it was suggested that we should not start the camp and then break to go to the embassy because it would defeat the whole purpose of having a bubble.”

Additionally, the JFF is still awaiting approval from the MOHW to host the camps as health protocols were being finalised during a meeting between the parties on Tuesday. The centre was inspected by members of the JFF medical team in July and was deemed then to be suitable to host the players for the upcoming camp. After the meeting on Tuesday, a formal response to the protocols submitted was expected on Wednesday, but that has not yet been received. However, Ricketts says that he is optimistic that the camp will be approved to start.

“I’m pretty satisfied and pretty confident that we will get the green light from the ministry very soon,” Ricketts said.

Former national assistant Bradley Stewart is concerned about the limited time that local-based players will have to prepare for the November 14 and 17 fixtures, given their inactivity since March because of the cancellation of the 2019-20 Red Stripe Premier League season.

“I would think that we are behind the eight ball,” Stewart said. “From the moment they say you can have 10 players or six players in, the coach should have been allowed to start his training.

“You could at least be improving the quality of the players we have, the condition, the understanding, how they work with each other. And in that process, the coach would have an opportunity to assess his players.”

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com