Richard Bryan, Gleaner Writer
Local alumina producers, Jamalco, are still keen to fund a team through the various tiers and qualify for the Red Stripe Premier League.
That plan was first mentioned publicly three years ago by General Manager Jerome Maxwell at the company's annual presentation award for the community league football it sponsors. That league, the Jamalco Football League (JFL), is currently the most lucrative community-based one locally, as the winners get a $120,000 pay day in addition to other healthy cash incentives like most disciplined team, most improved, best dressed, best attacking, best defensive and leading goalscorer.
Corporate Affairs Manager Leo Lambert has again given an assurance of the company's plan.
"As a sponsor, we made that commitment and we stand by it," Lambert told a similar audience at the 2013 awards held at the newly refurbished Wembley Excellence Centre.
"Already, we are the netball factory of Jamaica and in a couple of years we will be the football factory," a confident Lambert predicted.
The Wembley Excellence centre is on grounds which host the football field which now exclusively host matches in the annual JFL. It is expected that this field will be further developed as a top-class football facility complete with stands.
The initial announcement encompassed an ambitious plan to achieve National Premier League status in three years, using a team of players mainly drawn from teams which contested its community league. The first year began with a bang when they won the Clarendon Division One at one shot. The Major League was the next hurdle but they faltered at the end, losing by one point to Four Paths who qualified for the South Central Confed Super League. This past season, Jamalco's team made amends and easily won that competition and will now participate in the new season of the Confed league. Before that though, they will get a taste of football at the national level when they participate in the National Knockout League.
Ewan Scott, who is in charge of the football operations at Jamalco, disclosed that a squad had been assembled and will begin training next week. That squad comprises players from the Major League campaign and specially invited ones from the just-concluded league. The company, he said, is on the lookout for others who can strengthen the team.
"First, we are not looking for professional players who expect to be paid a salary, and we cannot guarantee that the players we recruit can get jobs at the company," he emphasised.
"What we are looking for are players who can work with us in achieving that dream and, of course, we will provide the usual basic necessaries that go with having a team," he added. "Current players who ply their trade in the premier league at any of the two Clarendon clubs, Humble Lions and Sporting Central, are welcome, he said as long as they understand these criteria.
Last year's Clarendon Major League campaign costs the company $4 million. But that is just under 10 per cent of the $45 million Lambert reveals, Jamalco has spent on sports in the past five years.