Sepp Blatter opens Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) technical centre

September 28th, 2010

Joseph Sepp Blatter (third right), the president of FIFA, and Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Captain Horace Burrell (third left), stand in front the plaque and hold the banner signalling the inauguration of the JFF's technical centre, FIFA Goal Project 1, during yesterday's function at the University of the West Indies.

The much-talked about Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Centre of Excellence – the FIFA Goal Project – which is expected to be the cornerstone of the country’s football going forward, was officially inaugurated yesterday during a prestigious ceremony at its base, the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.

The Centre, which has long been a pet project of the JFF but for one reason or another has been delayed, presently includes a football field and an administrative building. It is the first phase of four under which the Goal Project is being constructed, and is expected to be upgraded to two fields and other technical facilities over the course of the year.

“This technical centre, which in essence is a Centre of Excellence, is meant primarily for young people and it is hoped it will open many doors for them,” said FIFA president, Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, who declared the centre open by unveiling the plaque and cutting the ribbon during yesterday’s inauguration, that took place in pouring rain.

The ceremony also included Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, CFU and CONCACAF president, Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, who is also a FIFA vice-president, JFF president Captain Horace Burrell, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, and a host of other FIFA, CONCACAF, JFF and local football officials.

The centre, constructed under FIFA’s Goal Project 1, has been on stream since 2003, shortly after Blatter was elected as president of the sport’s world governing body and included a grant of US$400,000.

“The technical centre marks a new beginning in the development of football in Jamaica. It is really a dream come through,” remarked Burrell.

Jamaica was one of the first countries to be approved for the grant. However, the fruition of its Goal Project has been stalled due to local football politics, including changes in the JFF administration.

Ground was first broken for the centre to be built in Portmore, St Catherine, in 2003. However, after a change of presidency from Captain Burrell to then Clarendon Football Association president, Crenston Boxhill, there was a shift to Munro Villas in St Elizabeth.

Burrell was, however, re-elected as JFF president in 2008 and with the Malvern, St Elizabeth location said to be too far and not ideal, the project was shifted to its present location.

“It’s the third time that I have been invited to get the centre going and I am happy that after three attempts it’s now a reality,” Warner told the gathering.

“FIFA believes that by these technical assistance, financial or otherwise, it will help to level the playing field, especially for developing countries and for this we must thank president Blatter,” he declared.

Meanwhile, ground was also broken yesterday for the start of phase two of the project, which will be funded by FIFA under Goal Project 2.

Phase two will involve the creation of another football field, along with other technical facilities.

Third phase

Phase Three will follow shortly thereafter with the establishment of security walls, floodlights and medical facilities, while Phase Four, will consist of dormitories and other amenities.

The total cost of the overall project is expected to be over US$3 million.

Grange, in the meantime, said the synergy between UWI and the JFF stands to benefit Jamaica greatly.

“The Ministry of Sports and the government recognise the role that tertiary institutions play in the development of sports, and by extension the nation, and as such I want to congratulate UWI and the JFF in making this centre a reality,” she said.

Professor Shirley also congratulated the JFF on its vision to establish the centre.

“Eighteen months ago it was articulated to the university, the dream to have a football Centre of Excellence and to see that it has really come to fruition 18 months later, makes us very happy,” Shirley said.


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