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We need answers!

Observer writer

Friday, November 27, 2020

It has been confirmed that there won't be any Premier League football in Jamaica in 2020 and Humble Lions Head Coach Andrew Price is sounding like a man whose patience is wearing thin, even as he urges all the expectant parties in the extended drama to be patient.

“We have to be patient and wait until the Ministry of Health gives the green light to start playing back football. I am not a medical technocrat, I don't make decisions, they are the ones that make the decisions. We have to wait until the decision is made,” Price said in a recent interview on television.

Price insists that even though everyone is disappointed with the situation, the only reasonable thing that can be done at this point is to wait on news from the hierarchy.

“We are all disappointed, but until we get the information there is very little that we can do. I am unhappy, the players, management, physiotherapists, trainers, cooks, chef, the equipment managers and everybody are disappointed. But until we get the green light, we are left in a state where we have to wait until we are told that we can resume play.

“That is left upon the directorate of the Jamaica Football Federation ([JFF] to come back and let us know if the ministry has responded to them and in what way they have responded as to why the league cannot start yet, and we are still waiting,” noted Price.

General secretary of the JFF, Dalton Wint, who was also interviewed on Tuesday, admitted that football will not return before the New Year, and Price said that will come as a disappointment to a hopeful football fraternity that had been promised the resumption of football by the JFF some time in 2020.

“It's gonna be very disappointing; we haven't played any football since March the 11th, and a lot of the players and their immediate family are reeling from the inability to not play any football. This is what some of them do for their living, this is the only thing that they do and they have been unable to do it since March the 11th. That's a significant period of time.

“Everybody wants to get back on the playing field, but, of course, we have to follow the dictates of the Government. We heard a lot of the protocols have been extended until January 15th, where there is no gathering of more than 15 individuals at any one particular time.”

But even while insisting that patience needs to be exercised, Price had questions for the decision makers to bring some clarity to the situation.

“Is that the direction in which we are looking to play football in?

“We definitely have to get some answers and the answers aren't forthcoming and we really don't know the reasons. We don't know if the protocols that have been submitted are not effective enough, are not robust enough; we don't know because we haven't gotten back any information.”

Mounting costs are beginning to affect the bottom line of clubs who have an undefined and extended preseason to account for.

“As clubs it's going to cost us to continue to prepare teams not knowing when there is a definitive start date to the competition,” Price reasoned.

In addition to being financially impacted, the players are also affected psychologically by the uncertainty surrounding the timeframe in which football will resume, Price indicated.

“A lot of it will take a steep amount of psychology. A lot of the players are getting very despondent. As you know, next year is a World Cup qualifying year and a lot of the players have aspirations to try to get into the core group of national players. The only way they can get into that core group is if they are playing competitive football and the technical staff of the national team can see them. If they aren't playing, they are not going to make themselves available for the World Cup qualifying programme.

“So, they, too, are very anxious because quite a lot of youngsters and players out there want to prove their worth and let the national technical staff see what they are capable of doing and the only way of doing it is on the playing field.”

There were suggestions in some quarters that the game between Waterhouse FC and Arcahaie FC of Haiti in the Scotiabank Concacaf League would have been used as a marker by the powers that be to determine a resumption date, but Price was not one of those clinging to hope as a result of the staging of that game.

“The reason why it didn't encourage me was because I knew that Concacaf would have pulled out all the stops to enforce the required protocols for a game of that nature, in which they would have the players and the clubs in a particular bubble.

“We in Jamaica can't afford to do that, but Concacaf, because it's a competition that they sponsor, can get the clubs into a bubble and Waterhouse and the team from Haiti [Arcahaie] were put in a bubble.

“They were tested twice before the game [and] we don't have that type of financing to put teams into a bubble and test two to three times per week. It's gonna be difficult and like I said, it would be interesting to find out from the Ministry of Health if the protocols that were submitted [by the JFF] are robust enough or not.”

Only time will tell when the answers will be forthcoming from the JFF and the Ministry of Health about when football will return to the island.

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