FLAWED POLICY Owner of the Phoenix football academy, guardian, agent and manager of Leon Bailey one of the best young football talent in Europe, Craig Butler, has come out swinging at current Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) director Vin Blaine, as well as the federation’s failed policy of scouring the lower leagues of England in search of eligible and willing players to represent Jamaica . Butler was emphatic in stating that in pondering his role and the role of his young charges in the future of Jamaica’s football, he will have nothing to do with Blaine. Butler has indicated that he wants the job of Jamaica’s director of football. The outspoken football man also used the term ‘dregs’ to refer to some of the players recruited from England by the JFF. Of course, Butler is being roundly chastised for his lack of tact, and political correctness in making these forthright pronouncements. To speak out publicly of his desire to have Blaine’s job is premature and inappropriate, while he is being accused of disrespecting the national representatives by calling them ‘dregs’. All this while the substantive and fundamental issue at stake, which is the necessary and inevitable changing of the thinking about the way forward for our football, is getting lost in the firestorm of yet another exercise of majoring in the minor. Butler’s claim to fame is in his conviction, belief and success in developing young Jamaican players. His entire ideology of identifying and grooming young players and teaching them the basics of the game before seeking to export their talents to the lucrative leagues of Europe, contrasts sharply with what has obtained within the corridors of power in the JFF for the last decade and a half. The difference is simple but fundamental. Butler is about believing and developing young Jamaican talent, while the ‘old order’ has shown nothing but disdain and disrespect for local players, which manifested itself in the flawed and failed policy of begging half good, half-committed players from England and elsewhere to come and represent Jamaica. We are now at a crossroads with our football, and while Butler is totally in sync with the modern trends and football best practices, the JFF leadership has been caught napping. They are basically left with no choice but to announce a cliched roundabout turn, and spout a new found confidence in the abilities of young Jamaican players. One wonders how genuine this new-found confidence is. With that kind of paradigm shift in the thinking around the football, Butler taking over the role of director of football from Blaine would make a lot of sense. If Blaine is hurt by the way things are evolving, that represents a minor personal inconvenience in the pursuance of the wider good. As for Butler’s reference to some of the foreign born recruits as ‘dregs,’ of course it is harsh and probably inappropriate, but again we are creating a storm in a teacup. This is clouding the more fundamental message – that the time is at hand for us to formulate policies, programmes and philosophies that will enhance the development of our talented young players and stop the wholesale sponging of overseas journeymen. Fundamentally, Butler is right. He may be a little eccentric, arrogant and unorthodox, but again, dwelling on those human imperfections is another debilitating exercise of majoring in the minor, while missing the fundamental, which is the progressive winds of change that are currently engulfing local football.
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