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Old May 22nd, 2020, 05:14 AM
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Default The JFF vs Jamaica

Machel Turner
Sports Management Professional

The recent excitement surrounding the Jamaica Football Federation was not prompted, as it usually is, by a mistake made by the administration. One was later made, but not before these same administrators as well as the coaching staff were mentioned in somewhat unflattering terms by the senior men’s national team’s highest profile player, Leon Bailey.

Actions have consequences

Now we are all aware of the numerous deficiencies that the JFF has, a few of which were exposed in the path their reaction took, however it cannot be that a player airs dirty laundry and does not receive a sanction of some sort. There is no organisation which would allow an affiliated party to denigrate its image publicly and continue as normal and while the player is not an employee of the organisation, he is an ambassador and representative of it. Are we going to apply the same pass to all persons and organisations from now on or is it simply the blatant public dislike of the JFF why the public is adamant there should be no repercussions?

The representatives of an organisation are free to say whatever they want about that organisation in any forum however they must be aware that there are consequences to actions. Just as there would be praise for comments that reflect positively on the organisation, there will be censure for disparaging comments that bring the organisation into disrepute, regardless of the truth behind them.

The JFF blunders…again

We can all agree with Mr. Bailey that the JFF administration is a major barrier to successful national football teams with the constantly questionable decision- making taking place in the offices and the lack of strategic direction. They certainly showcased their inability to communicate effectively through the statements by President Mr. Ricketts and General Secretary Mr. Wint, neither of whom should have commented publicly before speaking to the player. The combative tones they took were also unnecessary.

The lack of a functional PR/ communications/ media department with competent personnel, or even having such specialist persons contracted to the organisation, is a glaring deficiency which explains why there continues to be a cascade of highly public blunders in the media.

Immediate, private contact should have been made with the player to discuss the issues highlighted and potential repercussions for his actions. We will yet see what those are, but I believe it is as simple as a public apology, despite the bruised egos of the administration.

Unfair to coach Whitmore and company

The comments regarding team selection were the ones I took issue with the most. Most persons who have played a team sport would agree that publicly questioning the coach is a ‘no- no’. The alternative of dialoguing directly with the coach, whether individually or as a group, is always better. I also found the assertion to be lacking context and therefore unfair to head coach Whitmore and the coaching staff, who can now be perceived as indecisive, among other things.

Including the Gold Cup in summer 2019, there have been four gatherings of the Reggae Boyz from which a core group of players can easily be identified based on the criteria of selection on three or more of those occasions. These players are Andre Blake & Amal Knight (goalkeepers); Alvas Powell, Damion Lowe, Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence, Shaun Francis, Fabion McCarthy (defenders); Je- Vaughn Watson, Devon Williams, Andre Lewis, Peter- Lee Vassell, Kevaughn Isaacs (midfielders); Shamar Nicholson, Brian Brown, Junior Flemmings, Maalique Foster, Alex Marshall (forwards).

We can discuss whether some of these names should be a part of a core, but that is a discussion for another day. The fact is that there seems to have been one identified. I am also certain that Leon Bailey, who missed the October and November FIFA windows due to injury issues and Bobby Reid, who missed the Gold Cup due to ineligibility and the October FIFA window with concerns about the playing surface in Curacao where we took on Aruba, would also be a part of this core. It must also be remembered that two players who were deemed potential solutions for the team’s problems did not show up to play- Daniel Johnson and Ravel Morrison.

A concern with more validity would be the constant changing of line- ups however there were players who were dealing with injuries and loss/ gain of form, which made juggling inevitable. My observations of the Nations League campaign led me to believe that the coaching staff were searching for the right combinations and solutions to problem areas in the team against opponents which we were more than equipped to handle. As the calendar now is almost devoid of opportunities for friendlies, is it possible the mixing and matching was done during that competition with a view to having a Gala XI from that core in time for the start of World Cup Qualification in September, a plan hindered by the loss of two international windows (March, June) due to the current pandemic?

Despite how the public might feel about his capacity to really excel in the job, it is a fact that the coach has delivered results during this stint. It is also a fact that there are very limited options available for a*replacement coach of the Reggae Boyz, with the JFF having no cash to hire a foreigner (not that the public wants that anyway, or do they?) and no locally based coach having even close to the level of experience needed for international football, especially with World Cup Qualification set to begin soon. So we have who we have and that will not change.

The inner workings of the team

This situation does prompt me to wonder about the nature of the relationship between the players (especially the senior players) and the coaching/ management staff. Is there a clear path of communication going back and forth between the groups? Are the players given a voice where they can give input or raise concerns freely? Do the players feel comfortable approaching the staff with their questions/ concerns? The answers to these questions would tell the story of why these concerns about squad selection were made in public instead of behind closed doors.

This incident should prompt coach Whitmore and company to re- think how engagement with the players takes place. It is possible that he will need to become more proactive in keeping the senior cabal of players aware of what is taking place, which they can then share with the rest of the squad. It is also imperative that he has direct and open dialogue with Mr. Bailey about the current situation and keep these lines open going forward, as the player is vital to future success and will almost always have the support of the public and his teammates due to his stature.

Towards improved messaging

This situation and the reaction to it have again made it clear that the JFF administration has a lot of work to do to significantly increase the amount of goodwill it has with all stakeholders, especially its players. Despite the obvious deficiencies, there can be no allowance for public insubordination bringing the organisation into disrepute to just pass without some sanction.

Moving forward, the JFF must work to put adequate communication protocols in place, if those don’t exist, and must immediately look into creating an arm with competent personnel able to handle the internal and external communication around the organisation. Messaging is an important aspect of governance and the JFF does a poor job of it. This must be rectified if the organisation is to receive favourable status amongst stakeholders.

"Good things come out of the garrisons" after his daughter won the 100m Gold For Jamaica.

"It therefore is useless and pointless, unless it is for share malice and victimisation to arrest and charge a 92-year-old man for such a simple offence. There is nothing morally wrong with this man smoking a spliff; the only thing wrong is that it is still on the law books," said Chevannes.
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