The overseas scouts who came to watch the young Reggae Boyz at the recently concluded CONCACAF U20 Qualifiers were left bitterly disappointed at the lack of tactical discipline and overall football talent displayed by our youngsters. Simply put, they stunk up the joint! Thank the lord that there were better players from other countries or the scouts would’ve wasted a trip.
YUH NUH GOOD!
When asked for their comments, the utterances of the visiting scouts were as follows:
“What I see now is not good enough”
“Some have talent, but they would still need to do more to be successful in Europe … Jamaica needs to improve. Technically, they need to get higher. It’s not what I expected.”
“Their ball handling speed needs to go up and also their decision-making needs to be better”
“I came here thinking I’d like Jamaican players, but I don’t see a lot of the qualities I typically see in the Jamaican players in the United States.”
“I’m shocked this is the best Jamaica can do. They are not ready for the pros.”
“I think Aruba is more technically and tactically organized. I am disappointed in Jamaica.”
This sounds like a shocking indictment of the performance of Jamaica, but for those of us accustomed to the world that is Jamaican football, this is the norm. The verdict: Jamaica is not ready to compete at the highest level anywhere. In Jamaican parlance: YUH NUH GOOD…YUH A RUX!
When one watches local football, the lack of tactical awareness and organization is evident. Yes, the players are sent out using varying formations, but by the time the whistle blows, all that goes through the window. The players do not know where they should be positioned in relation to their teammates at certain times in a game, there is no definite shape of attack or defense and there is no adjustment when situations change in the game. The result is a game that is wrought with indiscipline and difficult to watch. Who is accountable for the madness?
The blame for this must be placed squarely at the feet of those managing the players. But how can we blame the managers if they are not taught the fundamentals themselves? Is there a body responsible for ensuring that those calling themselves coaches have the requisite qualifications? Is a coach elected based on the fact that he has played the game or is it because he is the “most knowledgeable” on football. Is it just “links”?
After years of abject failure with local coaches and foreign coaches who just come for a little sun, we should really think of investing in the development of our local coaches. We should implement a rigorous system of certification, similar to the UEFA Licensing system. Coaches will therefore have to matriculate through various levels based on their experience and certification achieved. One would start from a basic level and progressively increase in difficulty and intensity until the highest level is achieved, thereby eliminating those not suitable to manage in the utmost professional realm. The process would obviously require discipline and focused attention to critical details – a trait incumbent in any top flight coach.
Speaking of discipline; our players seem to have little to none of this character trait. When you look back at our history in football it is littered with players who could have been great. Allan “Skill” Cole, Walter “Blacka Pearl” Boyd, Onandi Lowe and Marlon King are just a few of our players that could have gone to greater heights in the game but. These players were filled with immense potential but were neither guided nor had the self-discipline and drive needed to propel themselves to the top. If you ask anyone about these gifted players you are sure to here more about their off-field misdeeds than their prowess in the game.
The life of an elite athlete must be structured and scheduled for discipline to take hold and become a habit. Greatness comes not from mere talent alone but it comes from systematic repetition, progression and more repetition. Every time a fully fit athlete misses a training session, decides to shrug at his/her diet or decides to spend a night out instead of recovering; they deal a blow to their careers and lend a hand to those ready to knock them off their perch.
Our Reggae Boyz – Junior and Senior should not feel discouraged. They should heed the words of the scouts and coaches and dedicate themselves to improving those areas of concern. Failure is not the end. It is simply an opportunity to start again. This should be an opportunity to set new goals, reset the mind, to project a positive self image and to dig deeper into their reservoirs of talent and self belief. My only hope is that when our footballers dedicate themselves to growth and development; our powers in the game do exactly the same and harness the proper skills needed to manage elite talent.