Mon | May 27, 2024

U17 competition for Premier League clubs to get under way

Published:Friday | April 19, 2024 | 12:11 AMGregory Bryce/Staff Reporter
Michael Ricketts
Michael Ricketts

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts has announced an upcoming under-17 football competition for clubs in the Wray and Nephew-sponsored Jamaica Premier League (JPL). Ricketts said the competition is scheduled to start in early May.

While for its inaugural season participation will not be mandatory for JPL teams, the JFF aims to have all JPL clubs fielding a team in the competition.

“I want to formally announce that there will be an under-17 competition, which is scheduled to start tentatively on May 5. For all the Premier League clubs, it is not mandatory, but that is simply because of the first year. But we would want to encourage as many of the Premier League clubs to participate in this competition.

“We think it’s very important that we have such a competition, and we just intend to ensure that we get rolling as soon as possible,” he added at a JFF press conference in New Kingston yesterday.

Ricketts confirmed that the majority of the JPL teams will be competing in the competition’s first season.

According to Ricketts, the competition is needed to encourage development for players in the age group.

He said the aim is to create a space for players under the age of 17 to develop their skills ad make a smoother transition through the age groups into the senior ranks.

“We thought that it was very important that we capture those who were probably on the verge of getting out of high school and have them in a formal setting so that they can make a transition from under-17 to under-20, and ultimately, into the senior set-up.”

The decision also comes after the recent changes to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup cycle.

FIFA recently announced that as of 2025, the Under-17 World Cup will be held every year and will be expanded to a 48-team tournament.

Ricketts said the goal is to develop youth players who can secure qualification to the international tournament and be competitive at the international stage.

“As of 2025, the Under-17 World Cup will be every year,” he said. “So we thought it was very important because we want to exert some energy and some vibe to ensure as best as possible we must be competitive and very relevant at age 17 and under so that we can actively participate and add some level of competitiveness.”