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Disappointed but not discouraged - JOA underlines commitment to young Boyz despite Olympic qualifiers nightmare

Published:Thursday | July 25, 2019 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Tyreek Magee (left) dribbles under pressure from Dominican defenders George Usher (centre) and Jolly Fitz during their CONCACAF U-23 Olympic Qualifier at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in Kingston, Jamaica on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The match ended 1-1.

Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president, Christopher Samuda, like most Jamaicans, was left disappointed with the national under-23 football team’s early elimination from their Caribbean zone, Concacaf Olympic qualifying Championships, which was played here in Jamaica.

The Donovan Duckie-coached team made an early exit from the qualifiers after failing to win any of their two matches, with both ending in draws against lowly Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex last week.

So it means that the young Reggae Boyz were out of the qualifiers after just the first round of the tournament, and this after the JOA had invested $8 million dollars to help the team make a historic appearance at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Samuda, who admitted to being disappointing with the results, was quick to point out that it would not deter the JOA from supporting grassroots football, as the bigger picture for him is the investment being made in the country’s local footballers and the efforts being made to assist their transition to the international scene.

“I am somewhat disappointed because we knew we have the talent to qualify for the next round. The ball is round, and goals win matches, but I think we have a good cadre of players that we can work with,” Samuda told The Gleaner.

“We are disappointed, but we are not defeated, so it (elimination) doesn’t deter us at all as in every investment there is a risk. We invested quite a lot in the football programme and there was always a risk of us being knocked out, so that will not deter us because we have a talented group of boys to work with, and we have to invest in our youths in order for them to transition on to the international stage. So this is not a question if we are not going to invest further in football,” Samuda underlined.

Common vision

According to the JOA boss, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the JOA share the common vision of qualifying a Jamaican football team to the Olympics and the two forged a partnership aimed at bringing that vision to fruition.

The $8 million agreement was expected to positively impact Jamaica’s football and was to be used to cover costs associated with training camps, practice games, nutritional support, transportation, gears and match-related expenses. But despite this setback, Samuda insists that they will keep on investing in the nation’s young talent.

“Man-for-man we are very talented but the ball is round and that is how the game sometimes play out. But what happened yesterday is forgotten and we learn from the lessons of yesterday. The Pan Am Games is on a new competition and I have no doubt that they will do their best, and if their best gives them a medal, we will embrace it. But from the Olympic perspective, we’re not satisfied. But not qualifying for the Olympics does not deter us at all. An investment long term, is not event-related. But we are investing in the talent of our footballers and for future competitions, we will secure our place there,” he continued.

The Young Reggae Boyz will get their Pan-Am Games campaign started on Monday against Honduras, starting at 5:30 p.m.