Star midfielder Anthony Grant has had an immeasurable impact on Jamaica’s National Senior football team since making his debut in September. The former Chelsea FC man has come into a team that was desperate for a central defensive midfielder and has seamlessly slotted into the position and made it his own.
Why then, at 34-years-old, is Anthony Grant just making his first appearances for the senior men’s national team? Surely, if even in the last ten years, there were prior occasions for the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to recruit Grant and perhaps instill his presence into the squad much earlier, which could have led to a far greater impact than what he is currently having.
We have seen and heard of similar stories with the current and past JFF administrations; english-born players who were willing to don the Black, Green and Gold of Jamaica but were not approached until much later in their careers, in some cases when it was just too late. The most notable case is Michail Antonio, who stated that he was never approached in his early playing days by the JFF even though he was eager to play for the country.
“I’ve never turned down Jamaica. The first time Jamaica turned me down I was 22.” The striker said this during his very first interview with Jamaican media, days before his international debut against Panama.
We have also seen what happened with the infamous Leon Bailey saga, prior to his first appearance for Jamaica back in 2019. The Aston Villa winger was actively exploring the possibilities of playing for other countries due to a prolonged and largely publicised battle between his guardian and mentor Craig Butler and members of the JFF board.
What we have learnt over the years is that there is a clear lack of intent when it comes to recruiting players for the national team. The objective seems to be misguided. There seems to be no clear plan for recruitment, especially given the team’s problems with player development, team chemistry and structure.
The JFF do not know what they want and they do not know what they are looking for because there is no foundation on which to build on. No philosophy, no style of play, just a repetitive process of enticing the easiest, most vulnerable foreign based players with the possibility of a World Cup appearance.
This method is not sustainable. Jamaica’s status as a big-name contender in CONCACAF is under threat given the lack of direction from the Federation. In the next few years, the country runs the risk of falling even further behind if its focus does not shift from short-sightedness and temporary fixes to long term strategies.