BELIZ CITY, Thurs. Dec. 8, 2016–In a page 51 article in our issue for Sunday, December 4, titled “Illusive dreams; commitment to excellence, or resignation to failure,” we made reference, in the page 53 completion of the article, to our Jamaican counterparts playing a number of international friendlies as part of their preparation. (Unfortunately, due to a mix-up, the concacaf.com story was not printed.)
We applaud the FFB’s efforts (as evidenced in their release in our last mid-week issue) to secure international educational opportunities for our U-17 players. But we insist that, without the requisite international friendlies, our teams will always be under-prepared for the competition in regional tournaments. While there may be individual opportunities abroad for some of our talented youth, a continued reluctance or inability to realize international friendlies for our national teams cannot be equated with a commitment to excellence.
Our Caribbean counterparts can do it, in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba and Haiti, for example. Why can’t we?
Below we print some excerpts from the concacaf.com article promised in our last Sunday issue. It is titled, “Canada tops Jamaica in U-17 friendly.” And we follow up with another related article. (Underlining is ours.)
KINGSTON, Jamaica Tue. Nov. 29, 2016 (Concacaf.com)–A pair of first-half goals powered Canada to a 3-0 win over host Jamaica in an under-17 international friendly on Sunday at Winchester Park.
The Canadians took a 2-0 lead into halftime thanks to strikes by Jordan Faria (15’) and Alphonso Davies (22’), who netted for the Vancouver Whitecaps in a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City in a Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League game on September 13, 2016.
Yohan Le Bourhis completed the scoreline in the 47th minute….
Despite the final score, Jamaica head Andrew Edwards saw reasons for optimism and believes that by continuing to play difficult opponents, the Reggae Boyz will benefit in the long run.
“Compared to where we were in preparation for the USA friendlies, I believe today we executed better,” he said. “Yes, the result is not something to be happy about, but every game is a learning experience for us to grow and develop as a team. I see in the chances we are creating that it is more genuine as well as using wide areas to give us more of a threat.”
The sides, each of which are preparing for next year’s CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Panama, will meet again Tuesday on the Mona Campus of the University of West Indies.
(Amandala Sports Ed. Note: And in another related article on December 1, the Jamaican coach further expresses his view on the way forward for his national U-17 team. There are lessons to be learned here)
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday Dec 01, 2016 (Concacaf.com)–For the first time in Andrew Edwards’ tenure as the Jamaica under-17 national team head coach, one of his squads has lost four consecutive matches.
The Reggae Boyz recently dropped a pair of matches against both the United States and Canada.
Considering the quality of opposition and the fact that focus is being placed on preparation rather than final results, Edwards says that there is no reason to panic ahead of the next CONCACAF Under-17 Championship, which will be played in Panama from April 21-May 7, 2017.
“On the face of things, looking that we scored one goal in four games and conceded 13 in four games, does not really paint the true picture,” he expressed. “We have not backed down to our opponents and we have created chances. We still need to sharpen up on finishing and be more ruthless with our chances. Where the goals conceded are concerned we are aware of the errors we made and we are focused on getting that fixed.”
In the 2015 edition of the CONCACAF event, the Jamaicans advanced beyond the group stage to a playoff against the United States for a World Cup berth, ultimately falling 5-4 on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.
Edwards wants his side to go a step further next year and clinching a place in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
“Getting to the U-17 FIFA World Cup is our number one priority,” he finished. “CONCACAF is getting stronger and teams are improving in the region, so this tournament will be much tougher than ever. I am confident in the players I have at my disposal, and I am grateful I had four matches to experiment my team. Heading into Panama, I believe we will be ready.”
Jamaica has qualified for U-17 World Cups in 1999 and 2011.
(Amandala Sports Ed. Note: Charlie Slusher is not necessarily the best coach in Belize. But no national team coach can achieve the best possible results without the benefit of international friendlies. We’re giving them “basket to back water,” as the Creole saying goes. And it probably starts with our political/government leaders. When the national sports budget reflects the proper priorities for sports in education and national development, Belize will begin to enter the 21st century.)