A technical centre developed by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), was officially opened by International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) President, Joseph Sepp Blatter, at the Bowl of Excellence, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, St. Andrew, on (September 27).
The technical centre is expected to boost the JFF’s football development programme for all male and female age groups and national senior teams, for participation in FIFA’s various tournaments and competitions, with preparations for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil being central to the undertaking.
The ceremony formed part of activities in which Mr. Blatter, who was accompanied by high-ranking FIFA executives, including Vice President, Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, participated during a 24-hour visit to the island.
Also participating in the ceremony were: Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen; Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange; Principal of the UWI Mona Campus, Professor the Hon. Gordon Shirley, O.J.; and JFF President, Captain Horace Burrell.
Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange (right), greets International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) President, Joseph Sepp Blatter (centre), on his arrival at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), on (September 27), for the official opening of the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) Technical Centre. Others (from left) are: Principal of the UWI, Professor the Hon. Gordon Shirley, O.J., JFF Executive, Howard McIntosh; and Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President, Captain Horace Burrell.
Completion of the centre (Phase One), comprising a field, administrative block and changing room facilities, comes 18 months after discussions between Professor Shirley and Captain Burrell, with a view to seeing how best the facility could be incorporated into the institution’s Centre of Excellence.
The technical centre project, dubbed the Goal Project (I), is expected to be developed in four phases at a cost of US$4 million. The initiative is the brainchild of Mr. Blatter, and is being developed from annual subventions allocated to each of the 208 national federations affiliated with FIFA, including Jamaica.
Addressing the function, Professor Shirley said the concept of the Centre of Excellence is to have a facility catering to a wide cross section of athletes competing in a range of sporting disciplines, to enable them to develop their skills at home, “to complement the opportunities that many of them have taken advantage of, in going international.”
Professor Shirley said that when the work is completed at the Bowl, the complex will include: six football fields, two of which will be owned by the JFF; the Sir Frank Worrell cricket pitch, which has already been completed; a rugby field; improved Olympic-size swimming pool; indoor court facilities for volleyball, basketball and netball; tennis courts; beach volleyball facilities, and a “world-class” track.
Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen (2nd left), assists International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) President, Joseph Sepp Blatter (3rd right), to unveil the commemorative plaque to formally open the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) Technical Centre, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, on (September 27). Looking on (from left) are: Principal of UWI, Mona, Professor the Hon. Gordon Shirley, O.J., JFF President, Captain Horace Burrell; Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange; and FIFA Vice President, Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, who accompanied Mr. Blatter.
The Principal pointed out that the track facility was made available through the instrumentality of Olympic and World double sprint champion, Usain Bolt, and Glen Mills, coach and head of Racers Track Club, which is housed at the Centre.
“We also want to complement those (facilities) with the range of capabilities available through the UWI, which include: psychological support; physiological and bio-mechanical analyses; rehabilitative sciences; and nutritional capabilities, which are available through our Faculty of Medicine, and Pure and Applied Sciences,” he said.
In his remarks, Capt. Burrell said completion of Phase One “marks the beginning of a new era in our football development” and a “dream come true”. Noting that the overall project is slated to be completed in a year’s time, the President said Phase II will comprise another football field, additional changing facilities, and an administrative bock.
“Thereafter, we will move to Phase III, which will see us building the security walls, installing lights, and putting in another administrative block. The last phase will see us putting up dormitories and other facilities to accommodate our players, who will be training here,” Captain Burrell informed.
Vice President of FIFA and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, praised the decision to site the technical centre at the UWI, noting that it is “the premier institution of learning.”
He also pointed to a similar undertaking between the football association in his native Trinidad and Tobago, and the UWI’s St. Augustine campus.
In her remarks, Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, in endorsing the project, said the construction of the centre “represents the fulfillment of a dream” for Captain Burrell, the JFF, and the nation.
“The Government of Jamaica sees football as well suited to play a role in our mission to uplift our people; a mission to teach life skills to our youth and encourage a healthy and active population. I’m very pleased to endorse the JFF technical centre,” the Minister said.
In his remarks, President Blatter also expressed delight that the technical centre is being sited at the UWI, “because football can play its part in education and culture.”
“Football is more than kicking a ball, and if you can take all the benefits and virtues of our game, based on discipline and respect, and the fighting spirit and the spirit of fair play, and bring it to not only here on this campus, but share it with the whole population, then football can play an important part in the social and cultural education of the population here and around the world,” Mr. Blatter contended.
Following the unveiling of the commemorative plaque, Mr. Blatter broke ground for Phase II of the project.