Chung fires back at Stewart
General secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Dennis Chung has refuted claims by Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) vice president Carvel Stewart that there is no youth development taking place under the Michael...
General secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Dennis Chung has refuted claims by Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) vice president Carvel Stewart that there is no youth development taking place under the Michael Ricketts administration.
Stewart, in a call for a change in leadership, pointed out that there is scant attention being paid to youth development and is hoping a new administration would give more prominence to youth programmes locally.
However, Chung in a response to an article published on September 28 in The Gleaner, insists that youth development is mainly the responsibility of parish associations, while noting outstanding performances of numerous youth teams in 2023.
He pointed to the under-15 boys who reached the semifinals of the Concacaf Championships for the first time, the under-17 boys who went to the round of 16 and were one match away from qualifying for the World Cup. The under-20 girls beat a Central American team (Honduras) for the first time since 2020 and the under-14 girls participated in the Concacaf Championships for the first time since 2018.
Although the under-17 girls did not qualify for Concacaf final round, Chung said they still put up a creditable performance and their plans to continue camps is a sign of their commitment to improving the youngsters under their watch.
“There is a big focus on women’s football development under director Elaine Walker-Brown. We have been working on this. So to say that not much is happening for youth programmes at the international level is not factual,” Chung said.
He argued that development at the youth level is really the job of parish associations but that the JFF does assist with financial and other support. “For example, this year we gave money to all parishes to help with under-15 competitions,” the JFF general secretary said.
Stewart was also critical of the federation’s poor administrative handling of youth team’s travel arrangements but Chung insists there has been a huge reduction in those incidents as they have now implemented a checklist to ensure all is in place going into an international games or tournaments.
He noted that the only time players did not get visas on time occurred when the under-15 boys were due to travel to a competition in Sweden, but because the technical team was overwhelmed with the so many different teams in competitions at the time, finding a coach and training venue proved difficult as they had to be juggling the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence between teams.
“No excuses really but we just did not have the capacity to manage all at once as we had the Women’s World Cup, Gold Cup, under-15, under-14 and Central American and Caribbean Games dealing with.
“I don’t think that there has been any other time that we have played so many youth competitions at the international level but we haven’t really had any administrative issues. What we did is to put a checklist in place before an event for receiving team names, when visas are applied for, when medical supplies were requested, for example. So we have been able to manage it effectively,” Chung stated.
He added that senior men’s team coach Heimir Halgrimsson has also included several teenagers in the his squad, such as Dujuan Richards, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Dexter Kembikisa, and Delano Splatt.
“Richards has even became the youngest Jamaican to score at a Gold Cup,” he stated.