MoBay’s football, a platform for peace
In his first interview after Montego Bay United (MBU) FC snatched victory in the 2015-16 Red Stripe NPL finals, the team's coach, former national striker Paul 'Tegat' Davis, made an urgent plea to the youngsters of St James, which if heeded, could significantly change the social fabric of the parish.
"Leave the violence and come play some ball," said Davis in urging a return to the day when football held pride of place in St James. "We would like to see a return to the days when our youngster used to play a lot of football and the sport used to promote peace and harmony among the various communities."
In that era when football held pride of place, communities like Mt Salem, Glendevon, Flankers, North Gully and Green Pond, which are now all hotbeds of violence, all had excellent football teams and enjoyed much peace and tranquility.
Back in those days, no weekend would be considered complete without a big triple-header at Jarrett Park, featuring teams like Wadadah FC (Mt Salem), Seba United (North Gully), Violet Kickers (Cornwall College Old Boys), Glendevon United (Glendevon), Defenders FC (Green Pond), Fogo United (Flanker) and Seaview FC (Whitehouse).
"In those days, the various communities had an incentive to live peacefully as we would all meet up at Jarrett Park on Friday nights for the big triple headers," said Neville Campbell, a former Seba United supporter. "Sometimes the final game would not end until after midnight, and then you would have thousands of persons on the streets walking home peacefully to the various communities."
However, with the gradual decline in the quality of club football in the parish, in recent years, youngsters have been moving away from the game and embracing antisocial vices such as the illicit lottery scam and gang violence.
A few years ago, Jamaica's 1998 World Cup hero, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore caused some amount of controversy when he lashed out against the youngsters who were abandoning football for lottery scamming, saying they were destroying a wonderful sporting legacy.
With Davis now calling for the youngsters to return to football in light of MBU's championship success, it is widely hoped that football will once again be the catalyst for restoring peace and tranquillity across the parish.