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Carole Beckford | Jamaica and football leadership

Published:Sunday | July 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica Football Federation headquarters.

Football, potentially the sport to bring the biggest economic returns to Jamaica, is searching for a new president. Since Jamaica's qualification to the World Cup in 1998, there has been intermittent spots of success.

Football is the richest sport globally. Football also has the biggest television audience globally. Outside of the USA-based National Basketball Association (NBA), footballers combined represent the highest paid athletes in the world. That says a lot, but does not quite add up for Jamaica.

The search for a new president to lead Jamaica into the 2022 and 2026 World Cup, which should be the aim, must be based on a number of things. I will attempt to highlight some qualities, skill sets and personality traits I think the leader should have.

The person should be a:

- leader;

- manager;

- mobiliser;

- doer;

- visionary.

That leader should be contemporary; one who can take us from vision to reality. There are some key success factors that this leader should be able to manage in the vision-to-reality road. He or she must be aware of the political, economic, social, technological impacts the sport has to offer. This, therefore, requires a team that can deliver with all of this in mind. I know some of you are reading this and saying, 'But that is storybook-type leadership'. True, these things are written in books, but having worked in a few sporting organisations, I can tell you of the value of these factors.

In plain language, though, it is important to have someone who knows the lay of the land; but should possess the pizzazz needed to transform national expectations to international goals while tending to the needs of the boardroom.

The business of football is massive, and with so many options to choose from, in terms of income stream for athletes, income stream for countries via hosting of events, and just the networking opportunities, Jamaica must seek to mobilise the best sporting mind to lead what could be one of the biggest decisions we are due to make in Jamaica in a long time.

My suggestion is: go rational and not emotional; think with your head and not your heart. At the risk of sounding cold, pick the person who can transform the football in Jamaica into the most successful sporting body.

I will not use this article to pick who I think is best to lead, but what I can say is that the person exists in Jamaica.

What this means, therefore, is

- fix the schools' programme (Manning and Dacosta Cups);

- fix the club system (make it more manageable and meaningful);

- prepare an international calendar;

- host more matches at home (the Office is a great location);

- negotiate good deals for broadcast;

- expand your manager roles in your clubs. Have people who know the business of managing players for the best results;

- grow the business so experts/employees get paid competitive salaries.

Nationally, we need to:

- improve playing facilities;

- only use certified grounds;

- review roster of officials;

- have a better mix of experts at the top.

Football globally has enough politics, so I say 'stay away from the politicians'.

Jamaica needs a well-run football programme to sustain its stay as a sporting brand with all the returns necessary. Choose wisely!