Coach Whitmore needs to be in charge of team to eastern Caribbean

Saturday, April 21, 2018

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That Mr Theodore Whitmore, head coach of Jamaica's senior football team, will be left at home twiddling his thumbs while the nation's young players try their very best to impress him in absentia, we find absurd.

Even more laughable is the lame excuse offered by Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Mike Ricketts in today's edition in the sport section, where he said arrangements for team travel were made during the period when Mr Whitmore had tendered his resignation.

For the uninitiated, a team of only local based players will depart the island early next week for two International Friendly games against St Kitts and Nevis on April 26, and Antigua and Barbuda three days later. These games were announced by the JFF over a month ago.

However, two Fridays ago Mr Whitmore tendered a letter of resignation — as he later admitted — out of frustration that neither himself nor the JFF could agree to contractual terms over a protracted period of time, as well as the federation's failure to address or even acknowledge receipt of certain concerns he had raised.

On the intervention of the Minister of Sport Ms Olivia Grange, who convened a meeting of the involved parties at her office a week later, news emerged via a sketchy press release that Mr Whitmore, having withdrawn his resignation letter, would be restored as head coach of the team. Jamaicans were led to believe that the JFF would offer him a new contract, and that all issues between Mr Whitmore and the JFF had been settled.

During the period immediately after Mr Whitmore's resignation, Mr Ricketts had announced that assistant coach Mr Jerome Waite as well as Mr Donovan Duckie, coach of Waterhouse FC, would assume technical responsibility for the two games in the eastern Caribbean.

When asked yesterday to explain Mr Whitmore's omission from the team, in light of what transpired at the meeting at the ministry of sport, Mr Ricketts said: “All that decision took place before 'Tappa' had withdrawn his resignation. The arrangements had been done before. We could not have catered for Whitmore because we didn't know that he was going to withdraw his resignation. So we couldn't sit and wait during the arrangements.”

We are firmly of the view that this kind of thinking can do serious damage to staff morale, and worse, it could be viewed as petty. It also smacks of a federation sending mixed signals.

Last week Mr Ricketts said: “Yes, we have met with the minister and the truth is that we are delighted with what transpired.... I think we are ready to move on in the interest of football and certainly in developing the sport nationally.”

That statement doesn't seem to square with what is happening now. As it is, Mr Whitmore is being denied the opportunity to analyse the potential of the current youthful squad in overseas conditions, even as he, as the head coach, and not Mr Waite or Mr Duckie, will make that final call regarding team selection in the future.

Simply put, it is more important for the head coach to be present for these development games than his assistants.

This whole episode doesn't look good and the JFF needs to fix it at once.

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