Winfried Schäfer is on a mission with Jamaican Football. Last year he took over as the head football coach…and it seems like everyone is singing him praises. People see that he wants to change the direction of Jamaican football…
In the 1970’s Schäfer won the German league and UEFA Cup as a player.
As a coach he led small time Karlsruhe to the UEFA Cup and discovered talents like Oliver Khan…and now he is hired to lead Jamaica.
After failing to qualify for Brazil 2014, he is aiming now for the 2018 world cup in Russia. The focus is on local players as most Jamaican Internationals play abroad.
Jamaicans think very fondly of the golden days of the 1998 world cup in France. It was the only time they qualified. They didn’t make it past the first round although they did beat japan 2-1, but those times are gone.
“you need to think professionally, you have to want to develop. You need to think like the great Cameroon side who knew that if they played well, they may get a contract in France or Europe,” said Schaefer
He celebrated his greatest success as the coach of Cameroon. He led them to the African Cup of nations title in 2002…which left the country in ecstasy.
He was popular in Thailand too where he coached for a short stint…and now he seems popular with children right here in Jamaica.
“School football is really big here, the crowds are bigger than when the national team plays, people are crazy about football, you have to give them a chance to Join clubs and train properly and we need more pitches,” Schaefer explained.
One man who could have the funds to cover the cost is the president of the Jamaica football Association, Horace Burrell. He owns a chain of bakeries operating across the island, he used to be an Air Force pilot…and he just bought his second helicopter. Schaefer and everyone else around Jamaica calls him captain.
“I remember clearly the first time I met Coach Schaefer,” Burrell said, “yes he looks like a German, He looks like a coach and his appearance would certainly fit in with what the Jamaican people are looking for, ” The captain continued…
“It is important that the kids in the school and in the clubs have something to do, learn social interaction, winning, losing, teamwork, if hey can come of the street and work with coaches at the club level then we have achieved something…and something will happen, the island will not just produce players it will produce excellent players,” Schaefer said
If Jamaica produces more professional players and qualify for Russia 2018, then that would mean mission accomplished for Winnie Schaefer.
Jamaica just lost 1-2 to Serbia, but Schaefer is singing them praises. He sees room for improvement, but he sees the potential as well.
Tomorrow the team will take on the World Cup bound Switzerland…another quality team…thanks to Schaefer. The future seems bright for Jamaican football…and everyone is watching.