Growth requires more play, monitoring
Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
A former national football executive currently coaching in Europe has pinpointed insufficient playing time and absence of a proper monitoring for sluggish talent development in Jamaica.
Paul Whylie, who coaches at ESC Olympique (ESCO), a lower-division club based in échenevex, France, said Jamaica's emphasis should be placed on getting more playing time for youngsters and devising a system to track their early progress.
"I don't think the players are playing enough football from an early age (in Jamaica)," said Whylie, while attending the current World Cup in Brazil.
The former president of the St Mary Football Association, who works with the United Nations (UN), believes a key difference between Jamaica's football and one of Europe's biggest powers is that development of the local game is concentrated in school competition - primary, prep and high - while in France, the club takes priority.
"Organised football (in Jamaica) is limited quite a bit," said Whylie. " ... (In France) the under-six, under-nine, under-11 boys, they are vital to the clubs."
French clubs, he explained, are able to guide their progress by addressing strengths and weaknesses early with the help of a database and have a big stake in enhancing players' grasp of the game.
"You develop a commitment to the club, [and an] understanding of football at that club," said Whylie, a former member of the Jamaica Football Federation's (JFF) Executive Committee, who guided ESCO's under-17 team for four years before taking over the third senior adult men's team.
" ... The key point is that the club is carrying boys from age six years old to maturity ... so that there is understanding as to where the club is going."
Whylie said in France the youngsters begin club competition in August and play most of the year.
Jamaica's school competitions usually begin in September and run through early December. Little emphasis, added the former local premier league player and semi-professional, is placed on France's schools.
"The clubs really control football in France," said Whylie. "... High-school football is very low key."
Therefore, high-profile teams in France focus scouting on clubs for talent and players are followed from a young age, a system Jamaica needs to follow.
"We should have a reflection on each player," said the 61-year-old. " ... From there, we should be looking to have a massive get-together of players - under-11 - where we try to inculcate where we're going with football.
" ... What I think is lacking (in Jamaica) is a management system that has consistency," added Whylie, who founded the Agualta Vale Kickers Football Club and is a former president of Barbican Football Club. "It's madness to be just clutching at straws."
After retiring from the UN, the senior scientific advisor plans to return to Jamaica in August to work with a high school and develop a monitoring system for young players.
"I want to start this database for the 11-year olds," he said. " ... By the senior level, it's too late."
Whylie said his objective is a long-term solution for Jamaica's football.
"When you have a longer term programme, you can see short-term, day-by-day improvement," said Whylie. " ... When you systematically climb a mountain, you can see the progress."