Follow The Trace | Totally Missing The Point

first_img The Premier League clubs in Jamaica must take a significant portion of the blame for this period of uncertainty. Their reluctance to expose young players to the top flight at an early age plays a big part in the stagnation of the development of the young players. This has, over time, fed into the psyche of the football public and the young players themselves, convincing them that they are only good for schoolboy football and not even for our mediocre premier league, let alone getting called up to the national squad. The knee-jerk reaction of national coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore of calling up of all of 10 schoolboys to the current squad is confirmation that Whitmore himself is totally missing the point. That is typical pandering without conviction. Calling 10 schoolboys to the squad can only make sense if Whitmore truly believes in the quality of these players and will stick with them for the long haul. If, as suspected, these selections turn out to be tokenism and pandering, and most of these 10 schoolboys will never receive a second call- up, then the principle would have been totally betrayed. The general and utter confusion about how to manage the introduction of young players into the system is an index of how poorly we have grasped this very basic principle of the sport of football. Investment in youth is standard procedure in football all over the world. For far too long, we have had it totally twisted in Jamaica. That is why at the seniors national level, in recent years, the federation has resorted to scouring the sidewalks of England and go begging second-rate, half, committed journeyman players to come and don the national colours, basically telling an entire generation of young Jamaican players that they are not good enough. The rhetoric of the past few weeks seems hell bent on maintaining that sad state of affairs, an eventuality that will continue to stagnate and destroy the game locally, while all these myopic thinkers continue to TOTALLY MISS THE POINT. The discussions and actions across the local football fraternity in recent weeks, regarding the call for the infusion of more young players in the national senior set-up, have confirmed that many persons are totally missing the point. The basic and fundamental notion of identifying and indulging the very best of our young players at senior national level is being rejected by those who I think, by and large, lack the vision and foresight to understand the medium- to long-term potential of making this kind of strategic investment. In the books of the naive and ignorant, an 18 or a 19-year-old is very young in football, but in real and progressive football cultures, a 19-year-old is a ‘big man’ in football. For the persons who believe that 18 and 19-year-olds are merely amateur schoolboys, it will be difficult for them to fathom youngsters at this age being included even in a local-based training squad for a couple of friendly internationals. Such is the crippling short-sightedness that’s been shadowing these discussions. Without even realising it, the dissenting voices to the inclusion of youth are unable to envisage the kind of positive developmental effect that one or two years of consistent exposure at this level could achieve, once the right players are identified and persisted with. It seems beyond their myopic scope to accept that in a Jamaican system that is rife with imperfections, and that has wasted and destroyed hundreds of talented young players over the years. Genuine and strategic investment in young players could completely change the football landscape. This principle here has nothing to do specifically with hyping or overrating schoolboys, it is simply about investing in our very best young players available; wherever they are and at whatever level they play, the principle applies. if our best two or three youngsters are out of school and are already in the premier league, then so be it. That is why it is encouraging to see players like Rodave Murray, Shamar Nicholson and others getting the call. The reason schoolboys are perennially mentioned in this debate is because of the high profile of the schoolboy competitions, but if a good young talent is spotted in super league or even in a Sunday-evening scrimmage game and the talent is outstanding enough to inspire a call-up, then in principle, that young talent should be grabbed and nurtured. The fulcrum point of this principle is the IDENTIFYING OF TALENT. Period of uncertaintylast_img read more

Fast-forward to Penn with Edwin Allen’s 4×800

first_imgSome of our high-school coaches are already thinking ahead to the 123rd staging of the world-renowned Penn Relays. In fact, Michael Dyke of Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School has been planning for the Penn 4×800 metres since the start of the year. After a fine run by his team last Saturday, his plans may have to be upgraded. Ashanni Robb, Kara Grant, Kayann Green and Cemore Donald won the eight-lap event at the Gibson McCook Relays in eight minutes 47.71 seconds over a stubborn Holmwood Technical High School team. The runner-up school harried Edwin Allen past a meet record set by Holmwood in 2006. The reward for the 2017 Holmwood girls was a fine time of 8 minutes 49.71 seconds. In an interview in January after a loss to Holmwood at the Central Hurdles and Relays, Dyke revealed that he is programming his team to peak at Penn. Met with the suggestion that his 4×800 team could speed this season, he said, “I definitely think so and I’d be disappointed if we don’t win the 4×8 this year, especially at the Penn Relays”, said the soft-spoken Dyke, “because that’s what we are gearing towards; and the sort of experience and quality that we have, there’s no reason that we should not.” The Gibson McCook victory snapped a two-meet losing streak Holmwood had over Edwin Allen. While he acknowledges that his rivals are very good, Dyke reported, “I normally start the season like that, especially in the 4×8 – touch and go and feel out persons – but I know the complete four that will eventually mature into the top team when it’s necessary.” Holmwood had beaten Dyke’s team at the Central meet and the Western Relays with nearly identical times of 8.57.50 and 8.57.54. At Gibson McCook, Holmwood improved their season’s best by approximately eight seconds but lost. Grant keyed the Edwin Allen success with her strong second-leg run of two minutes 09.1 seconds. If Dyke’s January projections are anything to go by, his team’s performance at Gibson McCook would have been a surprise. Asked then if his 2017 unit could challenge the Penn Relay record of 8 minutes 37.71 seconds set by Vere Technical in 1991, he said, “I don’t think it will be that easy to run that fast with this team.” He added, “but I’m optimistic, and anything is possible.” He was right. Asked in January how fast the team would run at the 41st staging of the venerable Jamaican relay event, he said, “Well, we are in about 8.50, thereabouts, based on our preparations and where we’re at.” “So I think 8.50 would be a good time for us at the Gibson McCook Relays,” he concluded. Vere, Edwin Allen and Holmwood are the fastest three schools in Penn 4×800 history. In addition to the record held by Vere, a Ristananna Tracey-anchored 2011 Edwin Allen team completed the journey in 8 minutes 39.22 seconds, with Holmwood clocking 8.41.92 in 2008. – H.L. Losing streaklast_img read more