Time to talk - Williams pushing from Premier League discussions as Govt outlines plans for the return of sports
Chairman of Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) Christopher Williams, is pressing the Government to facilitate the resumption of football while refuting claims that this season’s Jamaica Premier League (JPL) competition will not be restarted until the national roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Williams told The Gleaner that his organisation is unaware of any such prerequisite and that they are still waiting for a meeting that has been promised by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) and the Ministry of Sports, which will signal when the JPL will restart.
“I don’t know where that is coming from,” said Williams. “There is no meeting as yet. We are anxiously waiting on a call to have the discussions.”
“We were promised that we would be given this opportunity the first thing in January, and now we are halfway in January and we still don’t hear anything,” Williams added.
DISCUSSIONS WITH ASSOCIATIONS
His comments came a couple hours before Minister of Sports Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange said in a statement, which followed a meeting with Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, and Grange, that they will be having discussions with a number of sporting associations to determine when the various disciplines can resume some of their activities.
“Sport is critical for physical and mental well-being and must be considered as part of the approach to improving the wellness of Jamaicans,” said Grange in the joint release.
Williams, who has led the successful negotiation of eight club sponsors plus a presenting sponsor for the JPL, described the support from corporate Jamaica as a clear indication that there is a strong will to see the resumption of the nation’s top competition while underscoring the value of sports, and football in general, to the country’s human and social capital.
“We certainly would like to have the opportunity to have the meeting, and as you can see, corporate Jamaica is well and thoroughly behind the restart of football. I would go on to say Jamaica is well and thoroughly behind the restart of football,” Williams said.
“Globally, even during this recent outbreak in the United Kingdom, football is still being played even though the UK is under lockdown,” said Williams. “Football is a very social-distance sport, and our proposal is that we would have no more than a hundred people in the stadium whether it is Sabina Park, Stadium East, or the National Stadium,” he said. “Of the 100 people, only 23 will be without masks because everybody else will be playing and would be required to wear their mask.”
Meanwhile, Tufton said the safety of the country remains the main priority of the Government and that this must be satisfied before the go-ahead can be given for the restart of sports.
“We now must work assiduously to finalise the best set of business processes and protocols to enable the safe return of sport,” said Tufton.
A draft framework has been prepared, and the technical teams from both ministries will meet today to push forward the plan for the safe return of sports. This, according to the release, will be followed by meetings between the Ministry of Sports and the various sporting bodies.