Who will take up the JFF mantle?

The Sporting Edge

Paul Reid

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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Just over a week ago we got the sad news that long-serving Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Captain Horace Burrell had succumbed to cancer.

As was said in this column, Jamaica owes the brash talking, big thinking former army officer a massive debt of gratitude. It was his dream that took us to the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and opened the gates for a number of Jamaicans to ply their trade in leagues all over the world.

However, the business of football continues.

Even as this column was being prepared, the Reggae Boyz were in action in a Friendly International away to Peru, with two serious assignments coming up in short order.

As we mourn the passing of “Cappo”, we must start looking ahead to the person who will take up the mantle and continue the work what was started in 199 – and no, it is not too soon to start the conversation.

Jamaica's football has not kicked on, as many had hoped, after 1998. And despite periodical successes such as winning the CFU Caribbean Cup a few times and a historic trip to the finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the disappointments have been many.

I am not one of those who think returning to the World Cup is a right, but surely missing the final of the CONCACAF Group so often is unacceptable.

The man to take football forward must be someone with some proven success with a lot of energy and, like the late Captain, must think big and outside of the box and be able to represent Jamaica on both the regional and international stages.

Sadly, none of the current 'wanna-be' leaders, mostly followers to be honest, possess any of these criteria.

The only man, in my opinion, who can step up to the plate is the president of Montego Bay United (MBU) Orville Powell.

Ironically, Powell's ill-fated, and some say, poorly timed attempt to run against Burrell in the last JFF voting Congress is one of the main reasons he should be the man to take over.

While others were content to hide and grumble about the football, Powell made his intentions known and threw his hat in the ring. Though it might have been a bit of “youthful exuberance”, it also says he is not afraid to step up and face challenges head on.

Powell has more experience now than Burrell had in 1994. But since we cannot say the MBU boss is the perfect candidate, which of those that we hear wanting the job is better suited to take over the helm?

Of course Powell would have to make adjustments to his leadership style, since being the JFF president cannot be a one-man show and at the very start he must lean on others for guidance.

Burrell and former JFF General Secretary Horace Reid dragged football out of the dark ages with administrative improvements, and if we are to continue the legacy we will be brave and elect a man who has shown he has more ideas than most other so-called leaders in the game.

It might be time to put away petty differences, personality dislikes or selfish ambitions as we look to the future.

What Jamaica's football does not need right now is someone who lacks the backbone to make difficult decisions; someone who will try too hard to be politically correct and try to be a nice guy that everyone will like. And worse, we should never elect someone who did not have the backbone to stand up to Burrell when he was alive, or someone who backed down in the face of adversity.

Jamaica's football does not need weak people at this moment, people who could not stand up for what they believed and were afraid to ruffle feathers.




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