January 1, 2020
RESPONSE TO YOUR REPORTS ON COMMENTS MADE AFTER U22 9-0 LOSS
I note with interest and some bewilderment statements recently reported by you in the Gleaner. The reported comments were made by Messrs. Lenworth Hyde and Don Anderson in the wake of the 9-0 defeat of our Under 22 players by their Japanese counterparts. The general impressions and conclusions to be drawn seemed to, in one instance blame the physically rough play in the local Premier League; the other suggestion emblazoned in your headline, “AMATEURS”, was that the Premier League and by extension its investors in the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) were to be blamed for the horrendous loss because of unprofessionalism.
I, first of all, wish to state that I agree with almost everything Mr. Hyde stated except reference to transition from schoolboy football to senior and possible transfers to more developed and better financed leagues. I would simply comment that keeping young exceptionally talented players out of the Premier League in favour of schoolboy competitions hinders their development and should be re-examined. Further, Shamar Nicholson, who is potentially our top striker over the next decade, did not play Manning or Dacosta Cup football. He instead entered the Premier League at an early age honing his craft against stiffer opposition.
Before I comment on whether it was lack of professionalism that resulted in that big loss, I will remind the commentator that most of the Jamaican players in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final were developed and played in our Premier League. In the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final every Jamaican player in the squad was developed in our Premier League. Further, all except one Jamaican player in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup Semi-Final were developed in our Premier League. It is remarkable that when success is achieved the League and PLCA are not accorded acknowledgement, but failures are attributed to them.
On the matter of professionalism or the lack thereof it should be stressed that adherence to the referenced CONCACAF recommendations was the responsibility of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) which delegated it to the then Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ) which was chaired by Mr. Anderson. The member clubs of the PLCA at all times responded to the JFF satisfactorily on all requirements that were said to be from or recommended by CONCACAF.
The true matters at hand that needs more detailed assessment are the genesis and organisation of Jamaica’s Under 22 Men’s participation in the Kirin Cup (Trophy) against Japan’s Under 22 Men. I cannot comment on the genesis, but some details of the trip are worth noting. The Jamaican players were selected from United States colleges, United States Soccer League and the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL). Only the RSPL players are currently active; the other players have been inactive for some time. Conversely the Japanese players are all reportedly active in the J-League which is their Premier League.
The travelling party left in two groups on Monday December 23 and arrived in Japan on Christmas night (Japan time). The game was played two days later starting at 7:20pm (5:20am Jamaica time). Those arrangements were clearly inadequate; no proper acclimatisation afforded. The players were noticeably slower than their opponents sometimes resulting in bad foul play.
There were other shortcomings that would have more directly affected the players’ substandard performances. Lack of professionalism of the PLCA’s clubs and the RSPL did not factor in those shortcomings.