U20 success would provide 'huge boost' - Burrell
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss, Captain Horace Burrell, says he is hopeful of the young Reggae Boyz and their bid to qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand this year.
The Jamaicans will kick off the CONCACAF final-round qualifiers, which will be played here from January 9-24.
Burrell believes a successful tournament would not only benefit the players individually, but it would also be a boost for the national programme.
"I am hopeful; but I leave things in the hands of the technical staff," he told The Gleaner yesterday.
"I am hopeful that they will put in a tremendous performance during the tournament, and we are really hopeful for the best, indeed I am hopeful," he reiterated.
"The team has had a few practice games going in, and we would have like to have had some more, but we are always going to be restricted by a lack of adequate financing. But we always have to work with what we have. We will not be able to prepare as well as Mexico, USA or Canada, but I think we have done our best with our limited resources, and one can only hope that the players give it their best shot and that we will end up qualifying for the World Cup," he said.
"I think this is an excellent platform from which to launch the continuance of our national programmes. We are certainly looking forward to a great performance. It is not going to be easy, as most of our players are not yet professionals, but they have the basic skills and will definitely be able to compete."
He added: "But I warn that we should not allow ourselves to get carried away because it is going to be competitive, and they are going to be playing against professional players and players who represent their country's senior national teams."
He noted that the rewards of a successful championship could be far-reaching.
"Success breeds success, and in my view, once the Under-20s perform well and we are able to qualify, it certainly would be a huge boost and, no doubt, sponsors would be encouraged in a more meaningful way," Burrell reasoned.
"It would help enhance our (other) programmes. So I am looking forward to a tremendous performance from the youngsters. Certainly, the benefits that would have accrued from an excellent tournament will certainly trickle down to benefit the other age groups and national teams."
He added: "I am hoping our youngsters make the most of the advantages and any opportunity that may arise, as it was also brought to my attention that club scouts from around the world, mainly the USA and Europe, will be in Jamaica; and if we perform well, we will have an opportunity to be looked at seriously by some of the scouts.
"It would also create a type of nursery for many of these players that participate in the tournament, as naturally they will progress into the next level, which is the Olympic or senior national team, and it is a step in the right direction, because the focus of the administration is on youth development," he said.