Jamaica's football history
RBSC – Interview with Captain Horace Burrell, president of the Jamaica Football Federation.
Friday, July 18, 2008
The RBSC’s Karl Wallace met with the president of the JFF, Captain Horace Burrell, in his offices on the 10th floor, of The Towers, New Kingston, Jamaica, on Friday, 18 July, 2008.
Captain Horace Burrell
Karl: Captain Burrell the RBSC thanks you for sitting with us for this interview.
Captain Burrell: The RBSC is always welcome.
Karl: This is your third term as head of the JFF and marks a return to the presidency, what role do you now see yourself playing as president of our Jamaica Football Federation?
Captain Burrell: That is an interesting question. Let us look at the importance of football in our Jamaica setting – Our football is more than just a sport, it plays a very important part in diffusing tensions in our society and uniting our people. I am not overlooking the very important part it is playing as a business. We know of the contributions made through the sums of money activities in football presently contribute to the economy. There are very few persons who do not recognize the potential for future increased financial contributions but the over-riding contribution in today’s Jamaica must be that made to the society of bringing persons from all walks of life together.
My role must be to bring together and unify the constituent parts that shall make an efficient functioning JFF and that shall create a vibrant successful football industry. My role extends to creating the atmosphere that energizes those who manage and play football at the various levels across the island. It must be the creation of an atmosphere which encourages attainment of higher levels of performance. Performances behind the scenes must be of the quality that ensures the face presented both on and off the field, is one of an ongoing series of successes.
Karl: Your response to the question suggests you are disenchanted with the current state of our football and possible the current state in which the JFF finds itself? What do you see as the problems?
Captain Burrell: Bluntly, our football has been set back decades by the past administration. Our FIFA rankings have never been this low. The financial state of the Federation is in a perilous state. Our workers and the stakeholders are not fully motivated. The program is in a shambles. It will take great effort to put the pieces back together and bring us to the place we were before the past administration came into office. It shall take great effort to reassemble the various parts of the program and to build.
Karl: How many national teams are currently being managed by the JFF?
Captain Burrell: We currently manage nine (9) national teams – Men Senior, Olympic, U-20, U-17 and U-15; Women Senior, U-20, U-17 and U-15.
Let me add this presents a tremendous financial burden on the JFF. It must also be understood that the Men National Senior Team, the REGGAE BOYZ, is the only one of these teams that earns positive income for the JFF.
It is important that we improve in quality the performances of all our teams, but more so our REGGAE BOYZ. It is important that the REGGAE BOYZ quickly return to having regular pre-planned matches against appropriate and best available opponents.
Karl What is the size of the current JFF budget?
Captain Burrell The undertaking of managing the JFF and the various national teams is enormous. Our budget through to 2010 is U$71,000,000.00.
Karl: There are many fans living outside of the island that support the Reggae Boyz and Jamaica’s football but are aggrieved at the level of advertising surrounding REGGAE BOYZ overseas matches. Why are our overseas matches not well advertised?
Captain Burrell: The fans should realize that often the JFF is not satisfied with the level of advertising. Of course we are very interested in the total advertising package embraced by the promoters of these our matches. We take particular interest in the advertising done to the segment of the market that includes Jamaicans and the Caribbean people. We would love greater reach within, what we could term, “our markets”, our fan base, but our hands are tied. The type of marketing done is the prerogative of the promoters. The JFF enters into contracts and has to abide by those contract terms.
Karl: Perhaps the JFF should give promotional and marketing opportunities to the RBSC?
Captain Burell: The JFF is always open to having discussions from interested parties on proposals for the promotion and marketing of matches.
Karl: How do you go about getting matches for our Reggae Boyz?
Captain Burrell: Matches are arranged through and with national associations within the football family. This includes my personal relationships with others in the football family. At this time it is proving particular difficult to arrange matches due to our poor performances and low FIFA ranking.
Not to belabor the point but the performances under the past administration were not helpful.
Karl: One area in which the past administration did not see eye to eye with you was where the Academy should be sited. Recently there was an announcement that the Academy would be sited at the University of West Indies, Mona Oval. Can you give any more information on plans for the Academy?
Captain Burrell: The JFF was approached by the UWI. The proposal put forward was a very attractive one. It included -
Fifty years tenure;
Land free of cost;
Injection of funds by the UWI;
Provision of physical structures for Medical, Sports medicine, access to UWI facilities and equipment;
Scholarships to players to attend the UWI;
and other areas of cooperation…other opportunities for cooperation as we move forward.
Phase I of the project is slated to be completed in 18 months. That phase will include administrative facilities and players’ dormitory. General John Simmonds is our project coordinator.
Karl: Where do we go from here?
Captain Burrell: Firstly – I am working hard to give our Reggae Boyz the tools to best represent us as we strive to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa.
Let us all put our support behind Professor Rene Simoes and our players. It would be a tremendous disappointment if we failed to qualify for the Hexagonal stage of qualification. We have done what we could to bring renewed enthusiasm and new commitment to the mission;
Secondly - beyond that there must be a rebuilding.
The aim is stronger national teams, a building towards being recognized for having a quality administration and quality football teams. There must be a maximizing on use of the REGGAE BOYZ.
We must improve the brand to make ourselves marketable once again.
The challenges must be met. Administrative courses aimed at strengthening, for example, the administrative capacity of our Parish FA leaders will come on stream. This strengthening and rebuilding, it is realized, will take time. We must share our vision with our affiliates and all those who would work with us for the benefit of our football.
Karl: Any final thoughts?
Captain Burrell: We are facing numerous challenges but we are putting the systems and administrative capabilities in place to meet the challenges and to overcome.
I am extremely optimistic about the future of Jamaica’s football. The staff and I shall continue to work around the clock to ensure the resurgence of Jamaica’s football to a level of which all Jamaicans will be proud. My confidence is high.
Karl: I wish you and the JFF every success.
Captain Horace Burrell: Thank you.
Postscript : Since the interview with Captain Horace Burrell the Reggae Boyz were bounced from the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers. The Boyz under Professor Rene Simoes drew with Canada and lost on Mexican and Honduran soil.
Simoes was fired. Former Reggae Boyz Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore was installed as interim coach and
Jamaica’s former Liverpool and England player John Barnes appointed National Coach.
There are signs of progress. During the period before Barnes took up office, Whitmore led his Reggae Boyz to victories in the remaining World Cup Qualifiers. Whitmore’s Reggae Boyz won all their matches and finished on the same 10 points as Mexico. They bowed out on inferior goal difference to Mexico.
Coach John Barnes, with Whitmore as his assistant, then led the team to victory in the Caribbean Football Union’s Digicel Championship.
The country has also leaped up the FIFA Ranking Charts from a ranking of #116 to #65.
The RBSC wishes Captain Horace Burrell, his fellow administrators, Coach John Barnes, Assistant Coach Theodore Whitmore, the Reggae Boyz, all of our other coaches and national teams, success.