KINGSTON, Jamaica – Euripides once said, “There is in the worst of fortune the best of chances for a happy change.”
I suggest that the Mike Ricketts-led Jamaica Football Federation administration take heed and slavishly follow through on this quote.
For when Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz failed to qualify for League A of the recently introduced CONCACAF Nations League, many expected doom and gloom. Suddenly, more than a year later and there appears an obvious change in fortune, as after winning their group in League B, the Boyz are solidly placed in CONCACAF’s top six, and should they maintain their standing up to the end of summer, then they will automatically find themselves in the final round of World Cup qualification (Hexagonal).
So what was total despair more than a year ago has shifted to great optimism and one man who has taken notice is Reggae Boyz Head Coach Theodore Whitmore.
The former Reggae Boy who starred at the 1998 FIFA World Cup Finals in France sees the realistic prospects of guiding the current team to the Qatar edition in two years and has made a few demands of the local governing body.
Whitmore has asked that his technical support staff be reinforced with the addition of a former Reggae Boy who is based in the United Kingdom and as such the JFF has started the process by having Whitmore initiate the conversation with the individual identified.
According to Ricketts, “It [search for assistant coach] started with a recommendation from the technical committee and we had discussions with Coach Whitmore…and with World Cup qualifiers coming up we need to strengthen the coaching ranks of the program.
“Whitmore has suggested one former national player, who is English-based, and with whom he has developed a special relationship and they have been in contact, and Whitmore thinks he could be a good addition to the technical staff,” Ricketts added.
The JFF boss was confident of finalizing an agreement.
“As soon as we finalize discussion with this individual, the JFF will certainly make an official announcement. The discussions are at a very embryonic stage; I have not spoken with him, but I permitted Coach Whitmore to engage with the early discussions, and the prospect9ive party has expressed an interest. We will meet with him very shortly so we can finalize the arrangements,” Ricketts was quoted in the Jamaica Observer newspaper.
Currently, former Arnett Gardens coach Jerome Waite is Whitmore’s assistant, with 1998 Reggae Boyz Captain Warren Barrett as the goalkeeper coach.
Though the individual has not been made public, checks have revealed the following as former players who have transitioned to coaching in the UK.
Deon Burton (Under-23 assistant coach, West Bromwich Albion), Michael Johnson (lead coach for England’s Under-21s), Paul Hall (Under-23 coach at Queen’s Park Rangers), Jason Euell (Under-21 coach of Charlton Athletic), Frank Sinclair (Stoke City Under-21 assistant manager), Darren Moore (manager at League One’s Doncaster Rovers), and Jobi McAnuff (player/coach at League Two Leyton Orient).
Whitmore has also asked for the JFF to entertain the idea of expanding the player pool by examining some British-born player with the hope of fortifying several key positions on the field.
“Coach Whitmore did say he was looking for two central defenders and two or three midfielders, but at the same time we don’t want to go overboard In bringing in large numbers of overseas-born players to possibly replace our local-bred players, but based on Coach Whitmore’s request, this is the way we had to go,” Ricketts added.
Ricketts announced at a press conference on Tuesday that the Boyz will play two friendly international games next month. The first will comprise local-based players against Bermuda on March 11 at Catherine Hall Stadium, and the second will be against Catalonia on March 30 in Spain.
Whitmore will use the second game to look at English-based players who have expressed a desire to represent the country.
It was also announced that Dennis Chung and Rudolph Speid have been appointed to the JFF board, pending ratification.
Chung has been appointed chairman of the JFF Finance Committee, while Speid, the current head coach of Cavalier FC, will head the Technical Committee.
According to Speid, “We will try to modernize the department, holding the respective persons a little bit more accountable. If we are going on a tour or simple things like play a particular opponent, we want to see what preparations are like, who will be monitoring to get the best results.
“We probably need to be more technologically friendly, analyze teams better. SO we are trying to get some people who are very au fait in that sort of thing to help the technical staff to achieve better results.”
These are all good news and processes which should have been in place long ago. But it’s better late than never, and so we hope that these proposals are implemented, and we have no doubt that they will bear fruit in short order.
We also know that they will come at a decent cost, but we strongly believe that these are investments that we cannot afford pass up, as there could be a huge windfall should the team qualify for Qatar.
Whitmore has meticulously plotted his path to Qatar, and now he needs the unwavering support of his bosses at the JFF. I say to Mike get in and let’s all push towards the Middle East.