Blatter welcomes Jamaica FA president
© FIFA.com

A delegation from the Jamaican Football Association, headed by its president Captain Horace G. Burrell, were guests at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on Thursday 24 April 2008.

They met FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke and other FIFA officials, and discussed a number of topics including the promotion and development of football in the Caribbean. After a productive round of talks, the president of the Jamaican Football Association also spoke to FIFA.com.

FIFA.com: Captain Burrell, what exactly brings you to the Home of FIFA today?
Captain Horace G. Burrell: We came here to meet President Blatter and the other FIFA officials, as we want to press ahead with the Goal Project in our country. We need new training grounds in urban areas to improve our work with youngsters. Also we want to further promote training courses at youth level and organise other courses such as administration and Com-unity. This is why we came to FIFA, to speed up the necessary developments. We are very grateful that we had the opportunity today to exchange ideas, and I am totally confident that we will take a great step forward with the support of FIFA. Today's meeting was a complete success.

How do things stand regarding the development of football inJamaica?
In recent years, Jamaica has done a great deal for youth development, but our infrastructure is unfortunately lacking, which means that we cannot realise our full potential in this domain. This is why the Goal Project and the courses which we discussed are even more important for us, to take our youth development to the next level. If we can significantly improve our training areas and as a consequence our youth development, that will give us the push that we need to be able to get to a point in the near future where we can consistently hold our own against the other top teams in the CONCACAF region like the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica. It's like a chain reaction. Jamaica has a lot of talented players, but we need improved sports facilities to be able to develop these talents as best we can. FIFA's support in this matter is an enormous help for us.

How is the Jamaican national team faring?
We have managed to get Rene Simoes, who is an experienced manager and who also has an excellent coaching staff. At the same time, we have optimised our structures and I am therefore confident that we will continue to improve. We are absolutely determined to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, but apart from that, we are looking to improve constantly, particularly at U-17 and U-20 level, which are very important for us.

Jamaica's next opponents in the qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ are theBahamas. How do you rate your team's chances?
I've learnt that in football, particularly when qualification for a World Cup is at stake, you have to respect every opponent. We will hopefully find the best possible formation from within our squad, and we obviously hope that we will beat the Bahamas and make it through to the next round. But we're only looking as far ahead as the next match and are totally focussed on playing the Bahamas. We will have to be at our best for these two matches; it's going to be hard work.

In 1998, Jamaica qualified for the first and to date only time for the final phase of a FIFA World Cup. What would it mean to your country to make it through a second time?
It would bring so many good things along with it. Football is a unique catalyst that can bring passion, unity and awareness to a whole nation. Jamaica has a lot of challenges to face. We're not where we want to be in economic terms, and we also have a certain amount of social instability. But football can change so much, it can bond a whole country and improve society on every level. Football creates peace, and it is of inestimable worth to the development of our land.