Jamaica’s future football stars dreaming of competing at the 2022 World Cup finals have had their goals of glory dashed, albeit temporarily, by Sports Minister Olivia Grange.
Because of the continuing coronavirus crisis across the island, the Grange has ordered the shutdown of the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) training camp at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus in Kingston.
It is game over before they even kicked off for head coach Theodore Whitmore and his locally-based players, who were ready to start training with the focus being this year’s CONCACAF qualifiers for the World Cup to be played in Qatar.
Grange kicked the JFF training camp into touch by demanding the training camp shutdown and wrote to JFF president Michael Ricketts following stringent instructions from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
The JFF will feel that the goalposts have been moved, as the shutdown was only ordered just after the government had given the go-ahead for the resumption of sporting activities on a case by case basis.
All sporting activities were initially ceased following Jamaica’s inaugural COVID-19 case on 10 March, with the recent provision for the resumption of sporting activities included in the Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 2) Order, 2021.
Grange explained to the JFF, following government concerns about the training camp because of confirmed COVID-19 cases among the participants, in writing:
“We are now in receipt of the application for hosting the training camp to commence February 6.
“Please note that training cannot commence without the approval of the Director-General, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), with the Ministry of Health and Wellness advising that there is no breach and it is safe to resume. Therefore, there can be no training until approval has been given.”
The Ministry of Health and Wellness has instructed that all of those in the training camp must remain at the facility in order to reduce the risk of infection.
The Centre of Excellence, named after the late JFF president, boasts a pair of training pitches and dormitories, with the Jamaica government have continuously been both committed and supportive to the development of the sport.
Whitmore, who has helped maintain Jamaica’s position within FIFA’s top 50 ranked nations, has revived the Reggae Boyz in his third spell at the helm.
Due to budget restraints over the past few years he has unearthed a plethora of both island-based talent and introduced fresh faces from overseas, so remains confident of tackling the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.
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