JFF promises more junior football
CHAIRMAN OF the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) Technical Committee Rudolph Speid is promising more from his organisation in the way of increasing the amount of age-group football being played on the island below the age of 12. The Jamaica...
CHAIRMAN OF the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) Technical Committee Rudolph Speid is promising more from his organisation in the way of increasing the amount of age-group football being played on the island below the age of 12.
The Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA), which begins its competitive football competitions at the under-12 level, is the country’s flag bearer for youth development, but Speid believes this could add to a long-term problem because that competition is about winning.
“Competition at that age could counter development. If you look at how you coach young players, everything should be geared towards development and not necessarily competition. Competition has rules and brings the winning part of it, which could hinder development. So at that age you want to be playing a lot of one versus ones and two vs twos so they get a lot of touches,” said Speid.
The experienced administrator, who is also a coach at the Jamaica Premier League level with Cavalier SC, revealed that having a younger programme is in the pipeline for the JFF, which he hopes will be implemented across the 14 parishes soon.
“What we don’t have is a national grass-roots programme, but it is something that we are working on, and we are trying to introduce a grass-roots programme in each parish from the JFF point of view and then we go up to the under-13 level for both male and female, so it is something that we are working towards,” said Speid.
Richard Edwards, former national player and title-winning captain with Harbour View, said that while starting competitive football at the under-12 level isn’t too late, he feels it could hinder some progress.
Edwards, who is also a founder of ‘Touch of Class Soccer’ in Canada, said that not only will children miss out on an opportunity, but the country could suffer in the process.
“Starting at that age (under-12) isn’t way too late, but my experience being outside of Jamaica, I’ve realised that that could slow the process down somewhat. So the earlier you have these kids playing the game, the more they’ll fall in love with the sport. The most important thing is for them to develop the passion for the sport but through fun and innovative activities. If we take these kids for granted, we are going to miss out,” Edwards stated.
Courtland Soares, a member of JISA, when quizzed on the issue of possibly lowering the competitive age from under-12 in schools, in a bid to incorporate younger players, hinted at being hindered by the financial challenges of such an undertaking.
“Are you going to pay for it, or you don’t understand that there is a cost to doing these things. Do you know how much it cost to run a competition?” Soares said, painting a frustrated figure regarding the lack of football at younger levels.
While the JISA primary and prep school competitions do not hinder younger players from playing, the need for teams to be competitive almost always excludes many of the younger players interested in making a team.
The idea of creating competitions for younger age groups will come with costs, not just for the competition organisers, but also for the schools, which will now have to factor in uniforms and cleats for other teams, coaching staff considerations, as well as added equipment and space requirements.