KSAFA clubs set to reconsider Tier II participation
IN THE face of immense criticism over the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association’s (KSAFA) decision to refrain from participating in the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) National Tier II competition, the former organisation seems to be softening.
KSAFA president, Mark Bennett, much like his predecessor, Wayne Shaw, who has insisted the second tier league is not financially viable, in a recent interview, admitted the clubs may be reconsidering.
“The clubs made a decision regarding Tier II and they have stuck with it. With the exception of one club (Meadforest). We have been having informal meetings and discussing it and the clubs are ready to speak on participating in Tier II. They are ready. They see what is happening and they are open to considering all aspects. So when the clubs of KSAFA meet and deliberate I am confident they will make a reasoned and balanced decision as it relates to Tier II,” he commented.
He noted that it is the aspiration of every club to play at the highest level and that it is up them to choose what is best for them.
The National Tier II competition is now the only route through which parish association clubs may enter the Jamaica Premier League.
“The clubs will look at all possible angles. They will look and make the best decision, one that suits them, and I am confident they will make the right decision when the time comes,” he said.
The association insists they have no issue with a national second tier league, but Bennett pointed that such competitions have a history of failing, and they still believe it is a financial strain on the clubs, who get little to no financial support for this competition. As a result, he believes a return to the confederation model would be better for everyone.
“When they came with that plan, we said the economics of the country cannot support two full-fledged national competitions. The experience of A League would have taught us that. We proposed the JFF stick with the confederation model, and develop that to a semi-pro level. So as clubs move from the parish they move higher into the confed leagues and will be accustomed to the different requirements and be ready to move to the next level,” he pointed.
However, Daglalish Henry, president of Meadforest, who broke ranks to accept participation in Tier II, said failure of KSAFA to take its place in Tier II is to the detriment of players, who all seek to play at the highest level possible.
“Football is about achievement, progressing and providing opportunities for those interested in their careers. It is not about the president or me. It is about catering and providing opportunities for youngsters. A sports person’s career shelf life is short and when you set it back two to three years. What are you saying to these people,” he argued.
According to Henry, the KSAFA president is not to be blamed for the stance, but rather, the clubs.
“They are successful leaders and achievers and they must assist the leadership in charting the course forward. They can’t just sit back and allow things to deteriorate and hold back the progress of young people,” he said.
Meanwhile, JFF general secretary, Dennis Chung, also believes the tide is changing in KSAFA and anticipates that the Corporate Area ruling body will soon become a part of the competition.
“It is an unfortunate situation that the JFF does not like. We had extended invitations, not only to Meadforest, but other teams. But I know the JFF president has been talking with the KSAFA president to resolve this. Hopefully, we will have that very soon and KSAFA clubs can fully access Tier II,” he said
He added that the current situation is not in the best interest of the clubs, and like Henry, believes it holds back the progress of players.
“Football is not about us the administrators but about the youngsters who have a dream and want to realise that dream. So we have to allow opportunities for our youngsters and as administrators, we need to ensure that we do not prevent that. But I am confident it will be resolved. I know both presidents are talking to resolve the issue and KSAFA are a progressive organisation, so I expect it to be resolved pretty quickly,” he said.