Fuller pleased with opportunities for local Reggae Boyz
FORMER NATIONAL striker Ricardo Fuller, is heartened to see locally-bred players coming through the senior national team ranks once again. Since qualification in 1998, Jamaica has relied heavily on recruiting English-based professionals at the expense of talented local players.
However, Fuller, a product of local football and one of the most accomplished Jamaica-born-andbred players in international club football, having represented renown English clubs such as Southampton, Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, Blackpool, Charlton Athletic, and Stoke City, where he really made his mark, said it is a ‘breath of fresh air' to see young, talented players coming through the national team again.
GAME STILL ABOUT WINNING
However, he argued that the best players must be given the opportunity whether they are locallybased or overseas born or bred, because the game is about winning, and teams need their best players to have a greater chance of success.
"It's a breath of fresh air for me to see local born players coming through in abundance again. Getting into the national set-up, making the cut, making the grade. I am a product of it (local football). I was born and bred in Kingston, played for Denham Town Primary and Camperdown High, played for Tivoli Gardens, went to England on trial and achieved what I achieved. So it can be done.
"But football is about your best players. It doesn't matter if they are locally bred or born overseas. Football is about putting your best team on paper on the field to achieve victory. If you are a manager and you are not getting victories, you will be sacked. So it is about putting your best team forward, whether they are born locally or in England. But if the players playing locally are better than the players abroad, they will get their chance to play. But it is nice to see so many players coming through, with so much potential," Fuller told The Gleaner.
Fuller, who serves as Digicel's schoolboy football ambassador, called on corporate Jamaica to give the Jamaica Football Federation the financial support it needs to qualify for a second World Cup.
"We need more finance, and part of why we qualified in 1998 – a big part of the programme, was the support of private-sector companies," said Fuller.
"Professional football is about being a professional. This is what these guys do for work, so they must get adequate pay. Get the private and public sectors involved, with everyone working together and putting in the finance we need, make the trips we used to make, get the experience and the exposure, gym session, nutrition programmes, sports science; all these thing we have to combine in football to achieve winning. If we do that, I think we have a great chance of qualifying. Football needs money, and football makes money , and it will be better for the country, and we will have a better chance of qualifying," Fuller said.