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.
A programme dubbed “Each One, Teach One” project aimed at fostering literacy and numeracy among young people will be launched shortly by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Youth Empowerment.This is according to Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment Aubrey Norton who explained that the programme is aimed at training individuals who will in turn train others with the intention of eliminating illiteracy and innumeracy from the country.“The Each One, Teach One programme is a, ‘trainer of trainers’ programme which seeks to build capacity for a core of young people, to deliver literacy and numeracy to their peers. A lot of our young people are illiterate and innumerate. Now we want to make our young people literate, we want them reading and writing, so we are piloting this programme… We are calling it “Each One, Teach One,” because when we train them, they would go out and teach other people,” the advisor explained.He related that the “Each One, Teach One” programme is among one of the may initiatives being carried out by Office of the Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment, “aimed at empowering youths to become self-sufficient and develop them into productive individuals in the society.”He explained that the programme will be targeting youths in communities such as Number 43 Village, West Coast Berbice; Kildonan Village, Corentyne, Berbice; Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice); and, Suddie, Essequibo Coast, while a special programme would be executed for hinterland youths.“We would have to take the training programme to them rather than they coming to the training programme, so we have scheduled for July, a youth leadership training programme in the Rupununi,” he explained.Norton revealed that at the end of this year, the programme would be reviewed and if it is found to be lacking in any area, it would be modified to make it efficient and sustainable.The advisor further revealed that as of this weekend, Office on Youth Empowerment will commence a training project with over 60 youths in basic leadership skills including effective communication, correct meeting procedures, and the role of the secretary and treasurer.“We have found from moving around the country that a lot of the young people have not been exposed to leadership training. What has been happening is that even when you try to form youth organisations with them, they are willing, but they do not have the skills,” Norton stated.He further pointed out that empowering youths with such skills is important so as to ensure they can benefit from the many entrepreneurship opportunities available within and outside of the country.