No Place For Jokers
HEAD of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), captain Horace Burrell, has sent a chilling warning to those players who seek to make light of the national programme.
"If you are not serious about the programme, then don't waste our time because you won't be kept in it, you will be out quicker than you were invited," Burrell said from his hotel room in South Korea yesterday.
"I would like to sound this warning to all the players invited to the national squad. Those who are not serious had better stay away.
"Everybody involved must be very serious about this programme because we have no place for complacency and mediocrity," Burrell went on.
Burrell, who is a member of FIFA Disciplinary Committee, says the time for fooling around is over and that the Federation will give technical director-designate, Carl Brown, all the support he needs in ensuring discipline.
"I have spoken to the Carl Brown and he's serious about the programme. He will be getting the full backing from myself and the rest of the Federation as far as enforcing discipline is concerned," said a stern-sounding Burrell.
In a move towards starting Jamaica's preparation for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Burrell has announced that the JFF will be returning to the Rene Simoes system where a squad of local-based players are kept in full training.
These players will be retained on wages and will not be allowed to work otherwise.
"Having reviewed the whole strategy of qualifying for the World Cup, it is my belief that there is one main way of achieving our goal and that is to keep our players together as we did before," he said.
The initiative, he said, is expected to start very soon as the technical staff has already been briefed and is in the process of putting the squad together.
"We have decided to start immediately," he says, "although we are aware of the fact that it has to be properly planned and executed."
To raise funds to sustain such an initiative, Burrell has turned yet again to corporate Jamaica for assistance.
"... I have been in touch with some of Jamaica's successful businessmen and they have expressed total confidence in the current JFF and have said that they are willing to support the programme," he told the Observer.
The JFF president, in his continuing efforts to shore up funds for his programmes, has sought audience with prime minister, PJ Patterson, who promised to do his part.
"Before leaving Jamaica I was assured by the prime minister that a review of the cut in the subvention from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) will be done," Burrell explains. "I am hoping that this (the review) will be completed by the end of June."
Meanwhile, Burrell says this full-time squad will be very busy as he, along with general-secretary, Horace Reid, is in the motion of arranging a series of international games, which is expected to be staged both here and abroad.
"Based on this new initiative, this team will be travelling quite regularly, and these games are expected to be against very strong opponents," he said.
Already, Burrell has held talks with England, Germany, Nigeria, South Africa, Iceland, Ireland, USA, Costa Rica and Mexico.
"Up to yesterday (Wednesday) I was approached by officials from Zambia, Malawi and Ghana, all wanting to set matches with Jamaica," he said.
"Discussions are going well and I am sure before the World Cup ends I will be able to announce some of these confirmed games."
He said the Reggae Boyz's disastrous 0-5 defeat to the USA in New Jersey recently put a dent into the team's image, but no permanent damage was done.
He warned, however, that another display like that would definitely hamper the programme.
"In that game there was absolutely no effort shown, no grit, no pride by some of our players," Burrell mourned.
I hope this works for them. It's a shame what has happened to Jamaican football lately.