Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sports
KANSAS CITY, Kansas:
WINFRIED SCHäFER thinks the mentality towards players who were not born or raised in Jamaica, but drafted to represent the country on the basis of their ancestral connections, is poor. He wants it done differently.
The senior men's national football team head coach, citing practices in countries of the biggest stature on the global football stage such as Germany, where he was born, and England, says such players need to be accepted with open arms.
"Germany in 2000 was number six, number seven in the world. Now, they're number two. Why? They worked very hard and changed the system. Ozil (Mesut), Khedira (Sami), Podolski (Lukas), Klose (Miroslav) - all German players not born in Germany - one is from Tunisia, one is from Turkey, two are from Poland; these players come into the national team and our national team becomes better, better, better," Schäfer outlined ahead of the Jamaica-USA match last Friday, as he pointed out ways to improve the game locally.
"It's the same in Jamaica. We have many good players in England, Jamaican players, but this player is born in England, so what's the problem? Everybody is Jamaican. It's not local player and English player, not two - no, no - everybody, all my players are proud of wearing the shirt for the national team," Schäfer said, emphatically.
The Jamaican team has a heavy influx of players who were not born in the country but gained qualification through deep-rooted family ties.
Continuing, the coach underlined a need for Jamaica to hold on to its top-line ballers.
"We have to work in Jamaica with our local players and we have many good players in England in the Premier League, but the problem is, England doesn't have good young players and they need our players, like the two players from Liverpool (Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling) ... . These players must come to us. We need those players," the coach said.
Additionally, the coach said the Reggae Boyz must work hard to claim a place in their club, and made examples of the Johnsons, Ryan and Jermaine, who have not always been included in their teams' starting 11.
"The player has to fight in the club for his position," he said. "The coach [is] right, maybe. Ryan Johnson, he is a very good player, but the coach had him on the bench and he has to work hard. I saw Jermaine Johnson in Sheffield [on] Wednesday, in his club. He plays the last 15 minutes. This is a very good player. I want to know why?" he stressed.