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Searching for truth on Alvas Powell walkout

Published:Thursday | July 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Alvas Powell
Andy Williams (left) and Damani Ralph.

I now must admit that I am officially confused. The ongoing saga involving Reggae Boy defender Alvas Powell has more twists and turns than a deserted country road.

When we first heard that he had walked out on the camp at the Gold Cup, coach Winfried Schäfer had told the whole world that the young defender had been unhappy with his lack of playing time. "I told (Powell) your time is coming ... we need all players ... . Now we need him ... he told me he don't want to play." It was a shocking story. In the long history of Jamaica's football, something like this was unprecedented.

Within a few days, Powell's MLS club, the Portland Timbers, released a statement that directly contradicted what the coach had said. Among the things in that release was Powell supposedly saying, "I am truly sorry this situation has occurred, as I wanted to play for my country in the Gold Cup. Unfortunately, things were not handled right, and I take full responsibility for my actions, but this wasn't to do with lack of playing time."

When I read that, I wasn't sure what to think. Initially, I thought, why would Schäfer come out and say Powell walked because he wasn't getting enough playing time and then the youngster's club is stating something the complete opposite. When two positions are as diametrically opposed to each other as this one was, somebody was telling the truth and somebody wasn't.

Who were we supposed to have believed then, the affable coach or what appeared to be the temperamental youngster? If we accepted Powell and his club's version of the story, what could be the real reason for walking out? One or two people, myself included, wondered aloud whether there were other factors at play here. Did someone diss the youngster and he just couldn't deal with it?


The agent's story


To make matters worse, we heard on a local television sports programme a few nights ago where the host stated that he himself had spoken to Powell's agent, Damani Ralph, and was told categorically that Powell's decision had nothing to do with playing time and that the truth would be revealed after the Gold Cup. That was interesting. It would have been nice to have heard that from Damani himself, just to prove to any potential doubting Thomases the veracity of such a statement from the journalist in question.

Given circumstances like these, I always prefer to have contentious statements like that coming from the horse's mouth, but different journalists operate differently. So now we were even more uncertain and not sure what to believe.

Lo and behold, we woke up to news yesterday that Alvas Powell is now admitting that he walked away because he wasn't getting enough playing time. "The decision I made, I was upset. I was upset that I was not playing. I had 18 games outstanding for my club and to come in the camp and not be playing, I was losing confidence. It was too much in my head."

This is what Schäfer had said, which was originally denied, but now Powell has come full circle. There are worlds of difference between "this wasn't to do with playing time" and "I was upset that I was not playing". Which of Powell's statements is true?

As to Powell's agent, Damani Ralph, his role in all this is shrouded in mystery. The coach had hinted that he could be behind all this. Schäfer had said at the time, "I don't think it's his (Powell's) decision. He is too young and does not think 100 per cent. His manager must tell him, 'Alvas, you can't go'." Damani has denied pushing the youngster to go. "I flew up to Canada, especially to try and relieve a situation that I know could have gotten worse ... . I did not advise Alvas to leave the camp."

Alvas himself supports his agent on this. "When I was leaving, Damani never had nothing at all to do with it. He even asked me if this is what I wanted to do, more than one time." At the very least here then, it does appear that Damani knew that Powell was disgruntled with his playing time and wanted to leave as a result, but then, how does that position fit in to what he supposedly told a local journalist that Alvas' absence had nothing to do with playing time?

Why the obvious contradictions? What exactly is the real story as it concerns Alvas Powell? Somebody in this quagmire is not being honest. Somebody here, it appears, is twisting the truth. Somebody in this fascinating little saga 'a carry we wide'!

- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to