Uncertain future

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Uncertain future

Donaldson scoffs at Reggae Girlz's top job, calls for changes in JFF's approach to women's football

Thursday, December 05, 2019

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With Head Coach Hue Menzies indicating his departure from the senior Reggae Girlz programme, second in command Lorne Donaldson expressed little interest in taking up the top job, given a lack of confidence in the current Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Administration.

Like Menzies, Donaldson pointed to a number of issues that have resulted in a strained relationship between technical staff and the country's governing body of football, to include but not limited to unpaid wages, poor communication, and a lack of respect.

“I don't have a lot of interest in doing something that is not working. I mean, I am a professional, I love to do things that work and things that will have honest and capable people with integrity, so we can all work together. And it doesn't seem like this is a good working relationship because nobody wants to listen,” Donaldson told the Jamaica Observer via telephone yesterday.

While noting that money has never been a major issue for them, Donaldson, the executive director of coaching at Real Colorado Soccer, believes the JFF's tardiness to pay the coaches on an eight-month contract signed January to August is offensive.

That said, the former national representative, who was named United Soccer Coaches' Association Youth Coach of the Year in 2017, also called for an agreement to be put in place to ensure that the players themselves are compensated going forward.

The players' contract with the JFF also expired in August.

“There has to be full payment of the coaches. We haven't gotten a dime; we did it for five years and signed a small contract, we always say it is not the money, but we want to leave this thing in a better place when somebody else comes in at least there is something there. But this is just poor.

“And then we have to look at the ladies having some kind of contract; [even] if it's a game-to-game contract or match appearance fee, there has to be something moving forward,” Donaldson shared.

“I don't know if we could ever get that done, because I don't know if we are that functional as an organisation to get stuff like that done. So that's where I will leave it until I get some word from them,” he added.

Donaldson, who along with Menzies took over the female programme in 2015, believes the latter's departure would be counterproductive to their objective of shaping the entire women's football structure in Jamaica to provide more opportunities for players to achieve their goals.

The two, along with Xavier Gilbert and others along the way have won the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-17 championships, topped the Caribbean in Under-20 qualifiers, and, more significantly, saw the senior team to a historic Fifa Women's World Cup appearance.

“Menzies not being around puts a hole in the programme; the staff is really bummed because we did a lot of work within the last five years, some of it is work done behind the scenes that people don't know about, and we scraped and fought with these kids. So Hue not being around is a big setback for this programme,” Donaldson reasoned, questioning the JFF's interest in women's football.

“So, moving forward, we don't know what is going to happen, because as Hue said, the lack of, or minimal communication with this programme leaves me to believe that they don't want the women's programme around or don't want to see the women's programme succeed.

“Because the more you succeed the more money comes into the coffers. So, in my opinion, I think they want to see the programme sink so they can go ahead and spend the money elsewhere. I am convinced of that,” he opined.

With the final phase of Olympic qualifiers scheduled for next month, Donaldson, who did duties at the sidelines during the first round of qualifiers in Menzies' absence, explained that no information has been forthcoming from the JFF regarding camp or practice games, which emphasises their lack of communication.

“The crucial stage of the Olympic qualifiers is coming up, but we already messed that up because we had a game against the USA and we didn't take the game. We would have played the number one team in the world and we didn't take the game, so all this stuff is a setback for us.

“Now we missed the Fifa window; no games and I don't know when we are going to have any friendly games or camps because everything seems to be very difficult. I know Costa Rica wants to play us in January, and that's kind of late, but Costa Rica is still waiting for them to respond, so I don't know,” he said with an air of disappointment.

Still, the experienced tactician is optimistic that things will eventually change, as he and Hubert Busby remain committed to the players, particularly those in the Under-17 and Under-20 programmes.

“We are going to concentrate on the players because we actually owe it to them. Busby and I, we made a commitment to some of the parents and players for the U-20s and U-17s.

“Again, it is going to be difficult trying to do the U-17s and the U-20s because nobody seems like they are interested on that side. There is interest elsewhere, but we have to find the right people who want to see women's football succeed in Jamaica. Right now it is not happening,” Donaldson, a Kingston College alumnus and former Cavalier FC representative, ended.

— SHERDON COWAN


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