A look into the future of Jamaica's U17 football team to the World Cup in Mexico by Reggae Boyz columnist and sports reporter Simon Preston
The Young Reggae Boyz arrived back in Jamaica from a brave yet promising showing at the 14th U-17 World Cup in Mexico. The Young Boyz ended the tournament bottom of the group with 1 point from the 3 games. Despite finishing 21st out of the 24 nations and not advancing to the knock-out stages of the competition the Boyz did break a number of records. This is the 1st U-17 team to pick up a point at the tournament and to score at a U-17 World Cup. Also this is the first FIFA tournament that we have been in where when we lost we have not lost by more than one goal.
Adding to the records this is the 1st time that we have gotten a positive result against a European nation at a FIFA tournament, France. Interestingly Andre Lewis is the 1st Jamaican born player to score against a European opposition and it was a goal worthy of doing so. Robbie Earle did score vs Croatia in 98 but he was born in England. Zhelano Barnes a strong fan of Dimitar Berbatov not only was the 1st Jamaican to score in a U-17 World Cup but was also the 1st defender to do so.
As the team arrived back on the island, there was mixed emotions. Team Captain Omar Holness a strong supporter of Liverpool F.C. and who views Steven Gerrard as his idol, says he is disappointed that the team did not progress and believes if the shot he took vs Japan scored, the tables would have turned and we would be in the last 16 of the tournament.
Coach Wendell Downswell pointed out that the Boyz should keep there heads up because they showed they can play good football and give powerhouse football nations a run for their money. The Boyz did show that they can play attractive football and there is every reason in the world to smile due to the potential of a number of this current U17 crop of players.
One name that is at the top of our lists is Alvas Powell. Many comparisons over the past 6 months have been made to him being the next Ian Goodison. Even though he has big shoes to fill, things look like he has big feet already and he is ready to take the world by storm. He has proven to be solid at heart of defense and a key asset in the midfield or going on his adventurous attacks up field. Alvas has already attracted interest from Arsenal as Neil Banfield, coach of the arsenal reserves likes Alvas' tactical awareness and physical presence.
Looking to the future, many will ask well what next for this crop. One thing for sure, is that Gamma will not make what happened to the last U17 team happen to this U17 team. From that previous U17 team, none of those players are in the national setup now or even a fringe member for the future. Sean Fraser has made 3 caps for Jamaica in the past 11 years. Keith Kelly has made 11 appearances since 2001. Allien Whitaker was only part of the team for the Lunar New Year Cup 2007 Under Bora Milutinovic and a friendly after that vs Panama in May 2007. The rest of the players are in the wilderness. For an example Kevin King former Tivoli Gardens striker is with Real Maryland Monarchs in the USL Second Division.
Looking at this current U17 crop of players, they are talented young prospects that can make a name for themselves on the international and club stage at high levels. The likes of Alvas Powell, Omar Holness, Andre Lewis, Romario Williams just to name a few are a crop of players which cannot be wasted. The initiative to put these players in a U-20 league is a good move by the JFF to help these players further develop to become a stronger team as they become U20 players working towards the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey
It’s obvious that these will not be the players that will make up the U20 team as there will be additions. One key addition that will make a significant difference is a young man by the name of Remie Streete. Remie is a 16-year-old 6 foot 3 inch centre back that plays for the Newcastle United reserves. He is also the captain of the U18's team at Newcastle. He was born in England but his father Floyd Streete former Wolves Legend was born in Jamaica. He would do the dirty well efficiently in the defense. This will allow Alvas Powell to play in the midfield where I believe he plays his best.
All in all we are moving in the right track. But continuous improvement is needed
Post your feedback in the forum
Visit Simon Preston Facebook Page
Email Simon Preston
Catch Simon on Twitter