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Improving local programme the key to World Cup rebirth – Schaefer

Published:Tuesday | November 23, 2021 | 12:12 AMAudley Boyd/Contributing Editor
Winfried Schaefer
Winfried Schaefer
Jamaica  coach Winfried Schaefer (right) celebrates with Wes Morgan after Jamaica defeated the United States 2-1 in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final play-off soccer game on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Atlanta.
Jamaica coach Winfried Schaefer (right) celebrates with Wes Morgan after Jamaica defeated the United States 2-1 in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final play-off soccer game on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Atlanta.
Theodore Whitmore
Theodore Whitmore
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WINFRIED SCHAEFER, the former head coach of Jamaica’s men’s senior football team, says more time needs to be spent developing local talent if the country is to improve its chances at World Cup qualification.

The Jamaica senior men’s football team has only qualified once to FIFA’s World Cup Finals, in France 1998, and Schaefer, a German national who was the Reggae Boyz head coach from 2013 to 2016, believes Jamaica’s football governors must invest more work in players here to strengthen its programme.

“Local players need more training with the head coach and the staff. You have to make a training centre and the coaches ... have to work more with the players,” Schaefer said in a telephone interview from Qatar, where he has been based since his separation from the Jamaica team.

“The head coach is not only the coach for matches, every month you’ve to work with the local players,” he re-emphasised.

Ultimately, Schaefer said the goal and ambition must be improving local players towards earning professional contracts, which would then propel Jamaica’s standard for World Cup competition.

“That is very important to the national team, for players (to) play outside of the country in countries with a stronger league. That gives the player more confidence when he is in the national team,” said Schaefer.

The German, now 71, has vast experience as a player and coach. While coaching, he led Karlsruhe, which at the time was not a big club, to the UEFA Cup. Then they had Oliver Kahn, one of the world’s best-known goalkeepers, who went on to represent Germany. As a player, Schaefer, who according to wikipedia recorded 438 Bundesliga appearances and 62 goals, won the German League and UEFA Cup as a midfield player with Borussia Monchengladbach, among other accolades.

SCHAEFER’S SUCCESSES

By example, Schaefer referenced his work in Jamaica that led to international transfers, and related the impact those players now have on the national team.

During his coaching stint in Jamaica, Schaefer had also hand-picked then Jamaica College successful Manning Cup coach, Miguel Coley, as his assistant, citing him as an understudy for the Reggae Boyz coaching job.

“In our time and after our time, two years after, many, many players from our team went to the States, went to Belgium and other countries. We made a new performance for the players,” he said.

“Look at Taxi (Kemar Lawrence), the left defender, I saw him in Harbour View and I told him you come to us and we made training for him. Afterwards he goes to New York, he goes to Belgium. Afterwards three players go to the MLS, other players go to Belgium,” he related. “We made much time for training.”

Additionally, the German said he had proposed selecting the best young players in Jamaica, aged under 15 and under 18, then twin players from two parishes each to make seven teams overall in each division and play a tournament.

“We wanted in Jamaica all regions to make two teams and not (only) the city, and all seven make a tournament then you can see all (the) players in Jamaica. I told the president you’ve to work with the local players first and make a tournament and you can see all good local players in Jamaica,” he noted. “That was the situation and that was better. Then you could tell this player to come to the training. It would be better, then we (would) have control over all players in Jamaica.

Some of his notable achievements included winning the Caribbean Cup, leading a Jamaica team to their first-ever win over the United States in their country, a victory that catapulted the Reggae Boyz to the Concacaf Gold Cup final.

“We beat the [United] States and we were in the final. It was not about luck, we work, we work, work, football is hard work,” he underscored.

Schaefer was removed as head coach of Jamaica’s senior men’s football team by then Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Captain Horace Burrell, after an altercation with media personnel at the Norman Manley International Airport, as the team returned from an away match at Panama in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualification. Then, the team’s chances had all but disappeared and he was replaced by current head coach, Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore.

Ironically, the team is facing a similarly very difficult situation in qualifying and there has been speculation about Whitmore’s job.

Schaefer said he, along with Coley, has been watching the team, but due to his professionalism and respect for Whitmore he will not say much on the coaching job at this time.

“I don’t want to talk about Tappa, I only want to tell you what Jamaica has to do for the future,” Schaefer said.

“I’m a person who is straight. I’m correct, I do not come from behind, I come every time straight,” he reinforced, referencing his integrity.

Asked specifically if he would be interested in retaking the job, he continued. “Tappa is the coach. I don’t want to tell you yes when this team has a coach.”

Continuing, he offered: “Motivation is very, very important for the players in Jamaica.

“Jamaica has nice sunshine, nice food, but the players must want to go to England, they must want to go to the USA, they must want to go on that journey, that is what the players have to know and the coaches have to help the players,” he noted.

“These coaches have time. What are they doing? They have to go on the training field, three days a week. The coaches of the national teams must work, work, work,” said Schaefer.

“Not only in Jamaica. In the Caribbean, the coach of the teams have to make more training with the local players.”

audley.boyd@gleanerjm.com