Organisers in race to get field ready ahead of Reggae Boyz-T&T clash
WITH JUST days to go before the Jamaica senior men’s football team take on Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly International football match at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall, stakeholders are keeping their fingers crossed that the surface will be up to standard at kickoff.
The Reggae Boyz are scheduled to face the Soca Warriors in the first of two local matches at the Catherine Hall facility on March 11, before travelling to Kingston for the second match inside the National Stadium on March 14.
Concerns were raised at Tuesday’s organisers’ meeting involving the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the St James Municipal Corporation, whose care the facility falls under at the Municipality building in Montego Bay.
The concerns come just a week after Reggae Boyz head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said his biggest disappointment since being in Jamaica is the poor playing surfaces across the island.
Reggae Boyz team manager Roy Simpson said while there were concerns, the JFF was not sweating over the playing surface and was hoping the St James Municipal Corporation would deliver on their promise.
CONCERNED BUT HOPEFUL
“Yes, we are going to have teething pains but what we want to do from the national level is to create a culture so that everybody understands what we need and what needs to be done. We have our concerns but we believe in our people. They told us that it will be ready, so we do not doubt that it will be,” Simpson said.
“The only thing I am a bit disappointed in is remembering the days when Montego Bay was buzzing. When Jamaica qualified for the World Cup around three-quarters of the squad was from St James. However, we always get good support in Montego Bay, so I suppose we will be ready,” he added.
In light of the recent comments by coach Hallgrimsson on the state of playing surfaces locally, Richard Vernon, deputy mayor at the municipality, was asked if the current state of the facility used to host international matches is an indictment on the caretaker body.
“It can’t be an indictment on the municipality. The coach and his assistant visited the facility and love it, actually. They are working with us to ensure when it is needed, we have it in a state that satisfies the requirements of the users,” Vernon said.
“There are methods used for the maintenance of the field, some of which are invasive. As a result, it will need time to replenish. When we get a request during that time it throws off the method of maintenance work. We are doing what we have to, in order to have it at an international standard which includes taking notes of others and employing it locally,” he added.
He also added that with all the conversation surrounding playing surfaces, they are not ruling out closing the facility for a few months in the near future to work on it.
“This could mean ripping it, reseeding and having a fresh playing surface at the end of it.”