Roy Simpson, the team manager of Jamaica, claims to have devised a plan for players that should result in reaching the FIFA 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
He aims to follow the successful programme instigated by former Boyz head coach Rene Simoes, which ended in competing at the 1998 World Cup finals in France.
Brazilian Simoes, who was at the helm from 1994 to 2000 and briefly returned as technical director in 2008 to tackle the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, introduced an ‘adopt-a-player programme’. This saw local companies on the island sponsor individual players, who would in turn become brand ambassadors for each of the respective organisations. Simoes also utilised a core of Jamaica-based players in training camps, who frequently travelled to Brazil for both these camps as well as competing in competitive matches.
After guiding the Boyz in 1997 to their inaugural World Cup finals, the following year Simoes reached football’s pinnacle in France and then lifted the Caribbean Cup with a 2-1 triumph over hosts Trinidad & Tobago.
However, Simoes’ squad comprised a handful of English players of Jamaican parentage and not just those from across the island. This became Jamaica’s only appearance in the final stages of a World Cup, and they also took the prized honour of being the first English-speaking Caribbean nation to qualify for the World Cup finals.
Simpson’s proposal is to mirror Simoes’ success by ensuring that the cream of island-based talent are given a shot to make the international squad.
His plan has been formulated so that a local group of elite players are selected to hone their skills in training camps, but to be released to clubs as and when required to compete competitively in such competitions as the Red Stripe Premier League.
Those players would be paid through sponsorship and under the guidance would undergo conditioning, medical treatment, tactical training and technical training to sharpen their fitness levels, silky skills and tactics.
Monitored by the Jamaica Football Federation, they would also undertake international training camps as well as compete in competitive matches during the FIFA windows. Simpson has suggested that these training camps and games would be limited to Europe, Mexico and South America.
There is of course the huge factor of finances, which in the current climate of uncertainly with the coronavirus crisis is dubious as purse strings are tight across Jamaica. This missing ingredient could mean that Simpson’s plans are scuppered and would leave the development of players primarily with their respective clubs across the island.
Whether the Simoes model is outdated, and his return in 2008 failed to yield success for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, is debatable. But at least Simpson is showing ambition for his goal of reaching Qatar as the Boyz prepare to tackle the matches next year.
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