In a culture that believes that talent reigns supreme, the value of good playing surfaces is sometimes underestimated. Recently, government embarked on a programme to improve the quality of high-school playing fields. Something similar is needed for football and cricket fields if players are to properly learn the skills they need. Bumpy fields make it impossible for them to control the ball and pass it at the required level of proficiency. Perhaps, in exchange for a tax concession, companies involved in landscaping could be invited to help in this area. The target would be to renovate at least one football field per parish each year and provide the expertise and staff to do the maintenance. The next critical element is the establishment of a national playing philosophy. Our biggest asset is sprint speed, and a style that embraces that asset may well suit Jamaica best. This may run at odds with our love of Brazilian and Barcelona football, but beauty can have many faces. Whatever style we choose, it should become the template for all of Jamaica’s national teams. That would allow newcomers to the senior team to fit in seamlessly. Once this choice is made, choosing players from the diaspora will be much easier because the selector will be looking not just for good players, but for those who will fit. The wholesale elimination of players from the diaspora could also eliminate the exposure they have received elsewhere. Lest we forget, Paul Hall, Fitzroy Simpson and Deon Burton, all based in England, boosted Jamaica’s drive to qualify for the 1998 World Cup with their competitiveness, professionalism and skills. The door should never close on such an input. The same logic applies to home-grown players who ply their trade abroad. Instead, an overall programme of work should be undertaken to improve Jamaica’s football. Better- coached players on better fields working together within a playing philosophy that suits Jamaica, will work much better. It will take time, but it needs to start now. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980. Talent reigns supreme Picking a national squad solely of local players isn’t going to save Jamaican football. The issues facing us on that field of play are too wide-ranging for that. The football fraternity will have to look itself in the eye and build a structure that produces quality play. That will take time. Pegging success to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup may be a mistake, too, as it may force the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to rush or overlook key elements in the development process. To be fair, some work has started with the certification of many more coaches in recent years. The requirement that coaches must have FIFA certification to train high-school teams is a plus. The pay-off is better-equipped players in the future. Those who organise preparatory and primary- school football might be well advised to adopt similar regulations. Such a move would ensure that aspiring players adopt good technical habits early in their acquaintance with the game. As we all know, bad habits can be really hard to break.
Dear Editor,Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan is quoted by an online news agency about the scourge of prostitution, as “A lot of these big men go there and they say how they want to feel up these girls because they said they never eat a white meat yet and they pay a lot for the services. So it is all a trade of immorality and it is unhealthy for my country”. This statement is racist and sexist in equally offensive measure and should be retracted immediately and an apology to all Guyanese offered forthwith.Editor, in modern societies, Ramjattan would be called on to resign; the fruitlessness of such calls forbids such impotent action. Guyana is often described as ‘a land of six races’, Europeans or ‘white’ people are listed proudly in all of our heritage documentation, as such, they should be entitled to equal protection by the Ethnic Relations Commission which was established in 2000 and whose constitutional functions offer such protection. Minister Ramjattan has openly referred to one of our ethnicities as ‘white meat’, this should not go unchallenged. Acceptance of any official derogatory descriptor is the thin edge of the wedge.Guyana is about to undergo rapid change, we already have people of all ethnicities and genders coming here to invest and work in the extractive industries (think oil), do we want the females of European ethnicities to be greeted or treated as ‘white meat’? The challenges posed by a sudden influx of moneyed people of other ethnicities are well documented in the Caribbean, it is not going to be an easy period of transition, statements such as this, made by a Minister, makes it even more so, it does our image and character much harm.Minister Ramjattan is on a campaign to boost his profile in a bid to make himself an attractive prime ministerial candidate in the upcoming general elections and pronouncements on every aspect of Guyanese life have been pouring forth – dogs and horses were needed by the GPF; late night parties are the cause of crime and domestic violence; tint was the major culprit in crime; crime is not as bad as in neighbouring countries; whorehouses are posing a security risk for Guyana; the PPP is preparing to meddle ‘Russia style’ in the elections. Ramjattan is yet to provide a mildly successful solution to the crime problem and as to the last, the PPP has no need for specialised public relations, all that is needed is for Minister Ramjattan and his colleagues in the Granger Administration to keep talking; the Guyanese public can easily see how dense, backward, racist, sexist and fossilised they are by their actions and pronouncements.Respectfully,Robin Singh