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Western football at a crossroads
The 2008-09 Digicel Premier League (DPL) is now history and while it was definitely not a good one for western Jamaica, but we nonetheless have to give thanks for small mercies, because while we have lost one team to relegation, it could have been much worse.
Going into the competition's final round of matches, western Jamaica's two representatives, Village United and Reno, were the two teams at the bottom of the standings in the 12 competition, which at the time, made them both prime candidates for relegation.
Thankfully, now that the dust has settled, what could have been a totally catastrophic ending for the region has been avoided. Former champions Reno were relegated but Village, which occupied the bottom of the standings for most of the season, managed to take a maximum six points from their last two games and earned a place in next season's competition.
While persons ignorant of the state of western Jamaica's football might be tempted to chastise Reno and Village for their lack of success, persons familiar with their daily struggles, in terms of securing sponsorship, generating gate receipts and meeting the demands of players, would realise that it was a season of trying to beat the odds for these two teams.
While Reno will now have to go back to the Western Confede-ration Super League and try to plot a way back into the top-flight teams. Without the support that has been missing from their failed 2008-09 DPL campaign, they are likely to struggle in the lower league when they come face to face with the likes of former national champions, Violet Kickers and Seba United.
Village United, whose commitment in the latter stages of the just-concluded league deserves much commendation, especially after having defied the odds to save face for western Jamaica, need to undertake some serious introspection. While it will be difficult, they need to find a way to rekindle the never-say-die attitude they showed in crunch time.
Now that Village has done their part by keeping the west in the big league, the entire region needs to throw its support behind the team going into next season's competition, which should be just as tough. The leadership of western football needs to sit down with the club and help them create the right support structure, because without that, success will most certainly remain elusive.
With Linnel McLean, the new boss of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Western Confe-deration, also the president of Village's home parish Trelawny, it is hoped that he will do for the club what previous leaders failed to do, in terms of helping to garner support for the team. Clearly, a strategy aimed at making the team viable is badly needed at this time.
smell the coffee
I believe the two members of parliaments in Trelawny should wake up and smell the coffee in terms of assisting the team's efforts. While the economic hardships will not make it easy, if they manage to do even 50 per cent of what Edward Seaga, Omar Davies and Mike Henry are doing at Tivoli Gardens, Arnett Gardens and Humble Lions, respectively, that should make a huge difference.
By virtue of emerging 2008-09 JFF Western Confederation champions, Wadadah is now involved in the Premier League play-off tournament and could join Village United next year, if they finish in the top two. While it will not be easy, it would be fantastic if Wadadah is successful because it would go a long way in restoring pride in St James' football.
Unfortunately, like Reno and Village United, Wadadah will also be faced with serious problems in terms of sponsorship and other needs. In light of the fact that they remain St James' last hope of getting into next season's premier league, I would love to see the parish's political, civic and business leaders throw their full support behind their effort to qualify.
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