Jamaica Gleaner / I am an unapologetic fan of national men’s senior football team head coach, Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore.
I have travelled with him on official football delegations, once when he was assistant to coach Rene Simoes, and I have been privileged to interact with him on several other occasions. He is a coach of tremendous talent and skill. On each tour of duty with the Reggae Boyz, his record has been superior to many other national coaches, all of whom have had at their disposal ‘plastic’ Jamaicans, who, by way of ancestry, qualify under FIFA rules to represent our fair isle. Tappa has, at his own insistence, utilised locally born and developed players as he strives to build a foundation for the development of local football. He seems to be of the opinion that using these foreign-based and developed players to win, and/or qualify for major tournaments, will not assist the nation, because once the team is eliminated, these ‘Jamaicans’ are never seen again, and the programme has to start all over again. Only one other coach of the national team seemed to have the same idea for the development of local football.
Velibor ‘Bora’ Milutinovic, a Serbian native, tried to utilise local talent when playing International matches, allowing these footballers to have the privilege of international travel and matches, thus developing local football. History will record the haste in which his contract was terminated, once his desire to develop a foundation locally was recognised by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) hierarchy. The salary of Bora and other foreign coaches a la Simoes, et cetera , ranged from an estimated US$45,000 to US$50,000 monthly.
LITTLE OR NOTHING
The unmasking of shenanigans in FIFA and CONCACAF by an independent body led to the removal of several powerful and influential members of football’s hierarchy from the region with a startling result. Suddenly, money to employ big name and multi-travelled coaches, dried up. What to do? The answer? Hire a local coach and pay little or nothing. Carl Brown, now residing in the USA, was offered the job. The reported figure of US$100 per day was not categorically denied by the JFF. Carl Brown declined, in an understandable ‘huff’, and so Tappa was invited, if memory serves me right, on an interim basis.
After much success in different competitions, the clamour by fans to make his appointment permanent grew louder and louder. We now know that the initial offer was rejected by Tappa who, nevertheless, as a true patriot, continued working under the interim agreement. Now, word from more than one source, has confirmed that the offer was US$3,000 monthly, with other benefits to be negotiated. This sum has been vehemently denied by JFF President Michael Ricketts, who, quite cleverly, did not divulge the figure offered to coach Whitmore.
To me, it matters not what the present coffers of the JFF affords. If 12 members of the governing body can be accommodated on a trip to Turkey for ‘practice’ games, then there seems to be a vault or bag somewhere where money can be found. Further, when coach Simoes was recalled, I do believe that his remuneration was met by contributions from local corporate bodies. With the present stalemate in the negotiations for Tappa’s salary, one would expect a stepping up to the plate by some of these same organisations who came on board in the past. But, and this is a big ‘but’, Tappa is heavily melaninised and does not have an accent. On purely medical grounds, I do not recommend de-pigmentation. What I do strongly recommend is that Tappa schedule meetings with some of these same corporate bodies and speak with an accent, preferably a European one. Unless that happens, Jamaica’s football will not go the way it has been going under Tappa’s care, which is up. It will revert to the same old, same old, using ‘plastic’ Jamaicans to qualify, and once eliminated, travel with a delegation to different countries, seeking any footballer who has a relative with Jamaican ancestry, and parachute them into the team! Jamaica has a chance to develop our local football talent and, once again, reach the lofty heights of World Cup football. We just cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by. Pay Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore what he requests, and let our development begin!