Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Courting conflict - Differing views on JFF’s recruitment of overseas-bred talent

Published:Sunday | March 7, 2021 | 12:17 AMDaniel Wheeler - Staff Reporter
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Jamaica Football Federation target Mason Holgate (left), from Everton, gets in a tackle on Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero during an English Premier League match at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, on January 15, 2017.
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As Jamaica continues its overseas recruitment of players ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, analyst Michael Hall and Harbour View head coach Ludlow Bernard have offered contrasting views on the pursuit of English-born players for the...

As Jamaica continues its overseas recruitment of players ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, analyst Michael Hall and Harbour View head coach Ludlow Bernard have offered contrasting views on the pursuit of English-born players for the national senior team.

The Reggae Boyz are set to welcome two players into their ranks as Reading defender Liam Moore has acquired his passport and is eligible to play for Jamaica, while West Ham’s Michail Antonio was confirmed to be applying for his passport, after indicating his intention to switch international allegiance early this week.

Among the other players that are reportedly on the radar are Everton’s Mason Holgate, Bayer Leverkusen’s Damari Gray, Southampton’s Nathan Redmond, Newcastle United’s Isaac Hayden and Ranger’s Kemar Roofe.

Hall says that given local’s football’s current inactivity, foreign-based talent should be pursued as best as possible.

“Given the circumstances, what’s happening in football locally now, there is no football being played and the likelihood of local football this year [is slim]. I have no difficulty with the Jamaica Football Federation pursuing as many English-based or Jamaican players based elsewhere in the world, who are playing football,” Hall told The Gleaner. “The fact that these players obviously have some pedigree, given the league and the clubs they are playing for, makes it even better.”

Former Manchester United academy standout Ravel Morrison became the latest player to switch allegiance to the Reggae Boyz and made his debut last November during the two-game international series against Saudi Arabia.

OVERSEAS DEPENDENCY

While Bernard has no issues with those who wish to represent the country, he says that there is too much of a dependence on approaching English-born players rather than improving the football system in Jamaica to see more local talent break into the national team.

“We are too comfortable about going to First-World countries and trying to find some descendants of our roots to play for our country,” Bernard said. “I’d rather [like] to see our own. I think that up to age 15, 16, our players are just as comparable and competitive as their counterparts anywhere in the world. It’s whenever they pass that age the transition into the professional ranks is where we are failing, because there isn’t much effort from the federation to pay adequate enough attention to the club system and the competition that we have here.”

YOUNGER PLAYERS’ CHANCES

While pleased with Jamaica’s intended player pursuit, former national player Jermaine Johnson believes there’s the chance that younger players could feel that their chances for call-ups to the senior programme will diminish because of the recruitment.

“It’s a good look if we can get those players, but on the other hand, you have the younger players who are going to think differently, who are going to think that they don’t have a chance,” Johnson said.

Despite the current difficulties that local players are experiencing because of local football’s continued lay-off, Johnson says that local players can still break into the team, as he believes that national head coach Theodore Whitmore will give them opportunities.

Jamaica are scheduled to play their first international friendly of 2021 against the United States on March 25 in Austria.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com