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Busby takes charge - JFF confirms Reggae Girlz head coach for Olympic qualifiers

Published:Wednesday | January 8, 2020 | 12:38 AMNodley Wright and Livingston Scott/Gleaner Writers
Busby Jr
Busby Jr

Former assistant coach Hubert Busby Jr, will serve as head coach for Jamaica’s national senior women’s football team – the Reggae Girlz, at this month’s Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the United States.

Busby Jr, who steps in to fill the position vacated by history-making coach Hue Menzies, will be assessed throughout the competition, with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) expected to make a long-term coaching decision following the tournament, which gets underway on January 28. Andrew Price was also named as Busby’s assistant.

JFF general secretary Dalton Wint confirmed Busby Jr’s short-term promotion.

“Mr Busby has been an integral member of the senior coaching staff for the women and his appointment is just a promotion and elevation to the head coach position and we are expecting him to do a very good job,” Wint told The Gleaner.

“We were having discussions on this and we were in negotiation to put in a senior coach for the Olympic qualifiers. It was a smooth transition; Mr Busby was a part of the programme and this is just a promotion to the head coach position,” added Wint. “The process and machinery was in place, it was just to name the coach. Everything was happening behind the scene, all the plans were made it was just to name the coach and Mr Busby was part and parcel of the discussions before he was even named the coach. So, we shall now go and execute. He came highly recommended, so a lot of people advised us to go for Mr Busby.”

Menzies, who led the country to its first appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France last year, quit last month after a lengthy stand-off, citing payment issues and frustration with the poor communication from the JFF. Menzies led a coaching staff including Donaldson, Busby Jr, Andrew Price, Will Hitzelsperger, Jason Henry, Sanford Carabin and Omar Ffolkes.

Wint also noted that Lorne Donaldson, another assistant coach, who took charge of the team during the Caribbean stage of the Olympic qualifiers last September, will take no further part in the Olympic programme.

“Lorne Donaldson will be a part of the (overall) programme, but not this programme for the Olympics,” said Wint. [Busby will be the coach] for the qualifiers for now for the senior team. If he [Busby] goes forward [qualify the team], we will have to retain him,” said Wint.

Interestingly, when contacted yesterday afternoon, Busby Jr indicated that there have been talks about him being involved in helping the Girlz qualify for the Olympics, but was careful to point out that there was no firm agreement in place.

“There has been no official communication from the JFF regarding me playing a lead role with the team,” said Busby Jr. “I indicated to them that I am available to the programme, but no title or position was decided.

HARD DECISION

Busby, a former Jamaica goalkeeper and nephew of the late Locksley Comrie, who once served as JFF president, said that making himself available was not the easiest decision, as there were a number of factors to consider.

“One, I [was] torn because there is the love for country, relationships to consider, and, of course, the players and their interests to consider, so it really is a difficult situation to be in, and, in the end, a decision was taken that this is bigger than the game,” explained Busby Jr, who played professionally for Crystal Palace, Millwall, among other clubs. “Above anything else, I want to help my country.

The Reggae Girlz, way behind in their preparations, are due to play their first game on January 29 in Edinburgh, Texas, against Mexico. It is hoped that a camp will materialise for next week in Houston, Texas.

“We will be trying to do our best to see if we could get the team to qualify for the Olympics. The core of the team, which qualified for the World Cup will stay together and we will try to get it done,” said Busby Jr, who is still hoping that issues concerning Menzies and Lorne Donaldson will be resolved so that the country can have its best representation.