Let's spark a football revolution
Miguel Lorne, Guest Columnist
I have a problem with Captain Horace Burrell simply calling on the private sector to provide better playing surfaces. Almost all the Premier League teams have only one field. This field is used by the Under-13, -15, -17, -20. It is also used by the women's teams. Thus, the field is overworked and there is no time for rejuvenation between matches.
Take Tivoli Gardens for example. There is a large piece of land across the railway lines, not far away from the club. The Jamaica Football Federation could possibly negotiate on their behalf to secure a piece so that Tivoli could have a practice field with bathroom and changing-room facilities, etc. This would ease the pressure considerably on their main field.
To the east of the Harbour View field is a large open quarry. Again, the JFF could assist in creating a space there for the many Harbour View teams to train and practise.
The aim must be for at least every Premier League team to have more than one field.
Earlier work hours
In terms of developing football, most of the teams do not have the bulk of their players until about 5 p.m. on training days. The clubs are not in a position to provide the players with a living wage. Thus, most of them have to work and then come to training afterwards. Again, the JFF could negotiate with companies that employ players to have them start work earlier, so that they could be released earlier, and also to have them released on certain days prior to important matches. They would then make up for workdays lost during the rest season.
Most of the inner-city teams make very little from gate receipts, even when the grounds are filled. For these teams to survive, they will need sponsorship - not in the form of handouts, but in partnerships. Boys' Town is a brand name and is based on the margins of downtown Kingston. There are many businesses downtown. Some of these companies could be there on match days to promote and distribute their products. They could also buy season tickets, T-shirts, and other memorabilia for their workers.
The JFF must help the teams to plan ahead. Waterhouse will have to convert one of their car parks into a field. The traffic jam to drive there is discouraging, and there is just too much difficulty to buy a ticket to go in. They could put their ticket booth at a more accessible place and plan a shuttle service from a parking area near to the grounds.
I have seen several people go away because they could not take the battle to go in. Waterhouse and Arnett Gardens have two of the friendliest grounds, where children feel happy and welcome.
In 1998, the JFF made a big blunder when it concentrated on buying a fancy building at New Kingston rather than concentrating on better playing surfaces. The purchase of a tractor would have impressed us more.
Constant Spring have one of the better fields and support facilities, but they have no Premier League team. They also have enough space for a practice field. Something is wrong. It is in an area that abounds with talent. Shortwood, Cassava Piece, Grants Pen, Mannings Hill Road, Norbrook, etc. The JFF must help them to build a team that is sustainable.
Each club must be encouraged to write its history, and feature those who have been outstanding both in playing and administration. Such books must be on sale at matches. Montego Bay United changed their name from Seba Football Club. In winning this year, how many of their players and supporters know the extent that 'Tegat' Davis contributed to the existence of the club and laid the foundation for their current success.
Come on, JFF. Wake up! You don't just dream of going to the World Cup, you build towards it.
The present method of picking players who may have a grandmother born in Jamaica may have worked in 1998. That must never be the formula. Build it with our talent at home, from the Under-10s.