Sat | Sep 24, 2022

Oral Tracey | Back by popular demand: The JFF’s ‘Comedy of Errors’

Published:Monday | August 5, 2019 | 12:19 AM

In the closing act of what has been a grand comedic gala staged by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), the incumbent Michael Ricketts is set to return unopposed as president when the voting congress takes place on September 15.

Eleven of the thirteen parishes nominated the main act, who will continue to bring the Jamaican football audiences to tears for another four years.

The duo of Mr Ricketts and his general secretary, Dalton Wint, have developed a reputation as the quintessential “Tweedle-dee” and “Tweedle-dumb” in terms of their combined competence at running the most high-profile sporting body in Jamaica, and are effectively being rewarded with another four years in office, after the previous two, which were characterised by a comedy of high-profile errors.

Appointment of Ricketts

The show all started with the initial elevation of the plan-less Ricketts to the presidency, at the expense of an opposing candidate, who articulated a clear vision and detailed plans for the development of the nation’s football, as well as an impressive show of solidarity with influential leaders of the Jamaican private sector.

Since that clumsy choice was made, awkward fumbles and stumbles have been the feature of their gripping stand-up performances.

Dominating the early presentation was the public spat with senior men’s coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore about his remuneration package. They were eventually saved by the intervention of the honourable minister of sport, Olivia Grange, which resulted in the federation eventually refusing to accept coach Whitmore’s resignation.

The next round of muted giggles emanated from the national under-20 male team being sent off to a World Cup qualifying tournament in Florida without having a full training session. The first time the team trained in full was on the eve of their first game. Against all the odds, this team, coached by the ninth-hour-appointed coach Jerome Waite, went unbeaten in the tournament and was eliminated by Mexico on goal difference. With the audience left to ponder, what if the team was properly prepared?

Then came the male under-17 qualifying tournament, where the team also suffered early elimination amid whispers and muted allegations of gross and horrific unprofessional behaviour within that camp.

Not even the historic qualification of the Reggae Girlz for the Women’s World Cup in France could steal the spotlight from the preponderance of comedic presentations by the JFF stars.

The president and his general secretary continued to sing from different hymn sheets, in response to the conflict over remuneration contracts and bonuses promised to the girls heading into the World Cup.

Marley’s Omission

During the World Cup itself, the JFF leadership was left floundering in trying to explain images of team ambassador and prominent team sponsor Cedella Marley in France, peeping and interacting with the players through a wire fence, instead of being officially made a part of the delegation.

Another clownish sequence emerged when the Federation, with no money left in the kitty for a pre-tournament camp for the girls going into the Pan Am Games, was rescued again by Cedella and her contacts. But with the trust levels at zero, the donors requested doing business directly with the relevant vendors instead of with the federation. The disjointed response from the JFF saw one voice saying it could not be done, another saying it could partially be done, and a third voice saying, let’s get it done.

The national under-15 boys team missed their qualifying tournament in Florida, because the JFF failed to make the necessary arrangements for securing US visas, is the latest joke delivered by Mr Ricketts and company.

Even as the football audience laugh and grin in dismay, Mr. Ricketts, Mr Wint and the entire cast of the JFF seemed to have mistaken the loud groans of disapproval for an encore, and are preparing to get back on stage, for another four year season of the JFF’s special titled “A COMEDY OF ERRORS”.