Photo: Action between the UWI FC and Molynes United in the aborted 2019-2020 foobtall season.
Following the announcement by the Minister of Local Government, Desmond McKenzie, on Sunday that football teams could resume training for the Jamaica Premier League (JPL), Chris Williams, the Chairman of the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) has been inundated with calls.
Williams who was speaking on television on Tuesday revealed that calls to his phone have been none stop as people try to ascertain the next move as it relates to preparation for the JPL.
“We have been bombarded from both the public and the clubs from Sunday night trying to get specifics. We have requested and received it in writing, but what we received in writing, we weren’t fully clear on, so we have asked for clarification.”
He has been advising clubs and other persons associated with the game to wait until further clarification has been received from the government before any training resumes.
“We told them to wait. No change in the hold position at this time, so still no training, no anything until we are clear and we have received written permission and then we will write to the clubs and give the communication. We have clearly made some progress, but we’re not over the line yet.”
The league, if it gets the go ahead will be played at four venues; Sabina Park and Stadium are the “A” category and the back-up category is Stadium East and the Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at UWI.
And just like the players and clubs, members of the PFJL are also experiencing some level of frustration as they await the resumption of football on the island.
“My board members have expressed to me some level of disappointment and frustration, but they are all committed to football and they also all committed to the national interest,” Williams revealed.
As for the government, Williams said that the PFJL will continue to push them to give the greenlight for the resumption of the sport.
“We have to keep trying to convince them that we are able to present the league in a manner that reduces the risk and I do think we have done that but they are not yet convinced.
“We are not giving up, we have to keep trying, that’s my mantra, I keep going and I know that the rest of my board is the same way and we are committed to the development of the Jamaica Premier League.
“We believe, just like how you want local grown food to ensure food security, if you want to ensure football security and that we will be top of the table constantly, we have to grow the Jamaica Premier League, that’s the only way we are going to be able to get consistently good performance out of the Reggae Boyz.”
A decision is expected to be made this week and the PFJL Chairman said that they have run out of time.
“We have to make a decision now. We can’t delay it any further.”
He has also dismissed the idea of a cancellation of the league, as the result of that would be catastrophic to the sport in Jamaica.
“The implications of that would reverberate throughout the country for the next few years.”
Williams also pointed to the positive effects that the resumption of football could have on the most vulnerable in the society.
“The social risk is that football comes out of the belly of Jamaica, and it is the number one sport and will help to distract the population and in fact provide the population with some amount of guidance.
“Footballers can convince the public to be disciplined and to help to kick Covid, so we can turn footballers into ambassadors, and to help to guide the operations and the way the public carries themselves.
“We have raised close to $200M in private sector support and this is support that will go into the most vulnerable communities and help to appease the challenges that these communities have been going through over the last year. We need to get these funds into the hands of the players and the supporters of the football programme.”
The PFJL is expected to meet later today to make a final decision on the 2020-2021 premier league season.