Lawrence wants corporate support for players
National defender Kemar Lawrence is calling on local companies to make an investment in local footballers in the early stages of their careers.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Gleaner, the 27-year-old full back discussed a number of issues that ranged from his time in Major League Soccer with the New York Red Bulls and the circumstances behind his departure to the investment needed in the national programme in order for the country’s potential to be fulfilled.
Lawrence, who signed with Belgium club Anderlecht in January, says that while players abroad may have got deals with companies in their respective leagues, there are not enough persons who have been supported by a local sponsor in their early development.
“If you are not taking care of your own, why should someone overseas invest in you?” Lawrence asked. “If you look at our team, there are so many talented youngsters, so many people that are doing good things. How many of them even have a sponsor in Jamaica? How many of them have a local sponsor?”
There has, however, been evidence of local sponsorship recently. Midfielder Peter-Lee Vassell was signed to a one-year endorsement deal with Gatorade last year, but Lawrence says that there is reluctance for companies to put that kind of investment into endorsement deals with players until they have achieved a significant amount in their careers.
“Everyone wants to wait until you’re big first, like your name is attached to a Manchester United or so. Nobody wants to rise with you to that point. Everybody just wants to see you there first before they can invest,” he said.
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS
It is because of this reason and his unsuccessful renegotiation with the Red Bulls that he feels that his move to Europe is important. He believes that it offers the opportunity not only for him to raise his individual stock but for the next generation of players to be better valued.
“My journey on this earth is to break some of these walls and barriers that are up so that our sons and daughters and the youngsters don’t have to face the same challenges that we have faced,” he said. “Someway, somehow, it can get easier, so I’m trying to do the right things, put God first, and see if I can move around some things for my fellow Jamaicans.”