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Young Reggae Boyz eye successful youth tournament

Published:Friday | April 19, 2024 | 12:09 AMOrane Buchanan/Staff Reporter
Wendell Downswell
Wendell Downswell

The national Under-18 team will depart the island today to compete in the 2024 UEFA Friendship Tournament to be hosted in Turkey. The team, which is drawn in Group A alongside the trio of Mali, Saudi Arabia and hosts Turkey, will kick off their campaign on April 22 against Saudi Arabia.

According to Wendell Downswell, technical director of the team, this is a glorious opportunity for the young players to showcase their talent.

“We’re quite optimistic and enthused about our chances, based on the quality of the youngsters that we have presently. We’re looking forward to quality performances from the youngsters, as this is also a welcome exposure for us. This is a very good platform for them to showcase their skills, as it brings the possibility for scouts to see them,” he explained.

Downswell added that the coaching staff isn’t entirely focused on their opponents but is more concerned on how the team performs on the field. He stated that the tournament will also put the spotlight on Jamaica’s Manning and daCosta Cup players, and see how they compare with other age-group football competitions around the world.

“We just have to focus on what we can do. With these young players coming out of the high-school football competition and coming to the international arena, I think it will be an acid test for them to see where our high-school competition is at present, compared to international football. They understand the whole value of this as it relates to their career development, and this is a pathway for them and a grand opportunity,” he shared.

The tournament was created to provide a unique opportunity for technical staff and players, in a bid to help them develop both on and off the field. Players are expected to experience different playing styles and cultures, and be able to exchange knowledge and learn from other players. According to Downswell, based on the discussions which were conducted between the coaching staff and players, the players are eagerly anticipating the experience that lies ahead.

“We’ve explained to them the ins and outs and what the expectations are. They’re aware that they’re representing themselves, the country, their schools and the Jamaica Football Federation. This is something that they’re really looking forward to,” he said.

Downswell also shared that the tournament will also provide an opportunity for the coaching staff to strut their stuff alongside other top coaches in the world.

“This is also an opportunity for our coaching staff to showcase their talent against some of the top coaches in the world. The onus is on both the staff and players to create that positive impact, as it relates to football,” Downswell said.