Beach football bummer
The Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) involvement in beach soccer appears to have come to an end, after the association withdrew from the Concacaf Championship, set for May 21-23 in Costa Rica.
JFF General Secretary Dalton Wint pointed out that it was not feasible to continue the programme or participate in tournaments considering there was no development around the formats, locally.
The move ended Jamaica’s unbroken participation in the Concacaf Beach Football Tournament since 2006.
Although stating that he understands the rationale behind the JFF’s position, coach Andrew Price is convinced that the country has significant potential in the format and believes it can provide opportunities for players, once the necessary support is given.
“It has potential for growth. Captain (Horace) Burrell (former JFF president) wanted more investment in the sport and for players involved to concentrate solely on the sport. But we need to have a local league, and the last local league was played in 2006 when Red Stripe Lite sponsored the competition,” said Price.
“But you have to have players constantly playing the game, so you can identify quality beach soccer players and we haven’t had any (league),” Price added. “I can’t say it is the best thing (to abandon programme) but I am inferring that the federation’s financial situation is the reason we are not participating.
“But it is a type of football like futsal that is played globally, and the country has the talent and athleticism to succeed in it,” added Price.
He noted that futsal suffered a similar fate because it was also given scant attention by the game’s administrators, and he thinks there has to be a shift in approach if Jamaica is to reap the rewards these versions of the game have to offer.
“We went to one (futsal) qualifying tournament, with Theodore Whitmore as coach in 2016, and we have not been back since. The last time we had a (futsal) tournament was when FLOW had one at the National Indoor Sports Centre (2015), and that was some time ago,” he said.
“Bahamas put a lot of focus on the sport (beach soccer) because they weren’t as good in 11 vs 11 and they were able to host and qualify for a World Cup. So definitely, it is another outlet for players to excel. Players who do not excel at the 11 vs 11 can show their worth in this type of football. We just need to put in the requisite amount of focus,” Price said.
Price admits that he does not see either programme coming back on stream in the immediate future.
“That (programmes coming back) is dependent on the JFF. Right now, they are strapped for cash, so I don’t see it happening any time soon. There are 14 different national teams and that it is the ‘least of the apostles’,” shared Price.
“There has to be a political will to be committed to the sport. The JFF has to make that decision, and if it is not in favour of it, then it won’t happen, but it has to be a conscious decision to find sponsors and the requisite resources to invest in the sport.”