Captain Horace Burrell has been President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) for an accumulated 17 years. Jamaica’s football accomplishments under the captain’s stewardship have been many and varied, headlined by the historic qualification of the Reggae Boyz for the senior World Cup Finals in France, 1998. Add to that the Under-17 team qualifying in 1999 the Under-20s in 2001 the Under-17s again in 2011, and throw into the mix some six Caribbean Cup titles. By any stretch of the imagination, the captain has been the best and most successful leader of Jamaica’s football. Not only did his vision and forthright leadership change the reality of the local game, Captain’s work also changed the perception that Jamaicans had of their national football team in an unimaginable and positive way that has persisted to this day. During his tenure as JFF president, Captain Burrell has gathered vast experience in the intricate nuances of managing the affairs of the nation’s most popular sport. Add to that political savvy, garnered along the way in holding on to that coveted position for the better part of two decades. intimidating reality That is a mere fraction of the intimidating reality that must have cost Mr Orville Powell many sleepless nights, before he decided to throw his hat into the race for the top leadership position of the most high-profile job in Jamaican sport. Mr Powell deserves great kudos for, at least, conjuring the cojones to do what many before him in a sometimes fractious local football fraternity have all failed to do. Having had private conversations with key members of the local football fraternity in recent times, almost in a chorus the call is to see the Captain ousted, with the most popular cry being for a more equitable distribution of the “football spoils”. My response remained consistent throughout, get an alternative candidate, take the message to the delegates and mount the challenge. Until the recent emergence of Mr Powell, the barks have been all louder than the bites. The Montego Bay United Football Club president spoke stridently and passionately and was, for the most part, on point with the issues raised – the lack of transparency and accountability, as well as the spiraling debt of the federation. CONFLICT OF INTEREST He spared no punches in raising the longstanding issue of the perceived conflict of interest in the scenario where the company owned by the president of the federation sponsors numerous parish associations, with the votes of the representatives of those same parish associations set to decide his fate as president. These were but some of the poignant points raised by Powell, which resonates loudly with all concerned with the sport locally. The word on the ground is that Mr. Powell’s biggest challenge will be to secure, in short order, four of the 15 available votes – to get the nomination to challenge for the presidency. The talk is, if Orville Powell gets the nomination, Captain Burrell will be in trouble. There is no doubt that the Captain is a veteran and wily campaigner, who, after suffering that bitter ousting by Crentson Boxhill in 2003, will not want to experience that feeling again, and will spare no punches in protecting his turf. On the other hand, the demise of Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, Jeff Webb and the imminent fall of former FIFA boss, Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, represents the loss of some big trump cards for Captain. The question is, will the wind of change sweeping across the sport internationally have enough momentum to sweep Captain out of power and sweep Orville Powell in the opposite direction, and into that now famous office that runs the nation’s most popular sport? Your guess is as good as mine. I am just about taking my seat in the stands, waiting for sound of the referee’s whistle, which should be heard loud and clear on nomination day, Thursday, November 5. Let the games begin.
As they used to say at Cuttington, when Walter Traub (now Dr. Gwenigale) was there, this is nothing short of “metaphysical” or “far-fetched.” But we at the Daily Observer strongly believe it is NOT: that it is decidedly DOABLE: Liberia should begin NOW the research toward finding a vaccine for Ebola.We admittedly do not have all the scientists in the world, but for starts, we have Dr. Gwenigale himself, Dr. Vuyu Golakai, a surgeon, Dr. Emmett Dennis, a microbiologist, Dr. Billy Johnson, a gynecologist and obstetrician with a PhD in Medicine, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, Dr. Sam Brisbane, Dr. Abraham Borbor and Dr. Roseda Marshall, Dr. Lily Sanvee; Dr. Bankole Jarrett, Dr. Kate Bryant and her scientific sister Tidi Bryant, all three of whom, though now retired, still can help with their contacts in the United States; Dr. Varney Freeman, a surgeon; Dr. Jerome Washington, a heart specialist, Dr. Juliette Phelps Maxwell, a surgeon, Dr. James Elliott, Dr. T.K. Slewion, Dr. Adama Sirleaf and Dr. Estrada Bernard II, all practicing in the USA; and all the other Liberian scientists and medical doctors practicing around the world, especially in the USA and Europe.These, we think, are a good start. Dr. Gwenigale and Dr. Bernice Dahn, Liberia’s Health and Social Welfare Minister and Chief Medical Officer, respectively, and Dr. Johnson, Chief Medical Officer at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, should lead the charge. They should consult with all our scientists on the ground, convene a retreat and put on paper a basic research design and circulate it to their colleagues around the world. All Liberian scientists, wherever they are, would be interested and could grab the idea and go running with it, making contacts with their fellow scientists wherever they are, to help research this deadly disease toward developing a vaccine against it.The scientists at the Liberia Institute for Tropical Medicine (LITM) in Charlesville, near Roberts International Airport, would be a good place to start. As we have always said, MONEY is NOT the problem. Long before one cent is raised, people want to see a concrete and challenging IDEA whose time has come. If they are convinced that it is a worthy cause, they will find the money. We are positive that the few Liberians with money, such as Bill Morris, Benoni Urey and Emmanuel Shaw; and George Soros (Open Society), Bill Clinton and Tony Blair–friends of Ellen, all–and philanthropists Bill and Malinda Gates, the Amazon and Google people and so many other wealthy and good-hearted ones, would heartily embrace this idea and help support it.The three monied Liberians mentioned–Morris, Urey and Shaw—could begin by financing and hosting the first retreat–probably at Cuttington, Du Side Hospital or some other appropriate venue, and contribute the seed money to start this important project. The Daily Observer would be happy to provide all the necessary publicity and promotion for the project idea.Others, seeing that we have cast our buckets where we are, would join in and help carry the idea forward.We pray that Drs. Gwenigale, Johnson, Dahn and all our other scientists on the ground would put aside whatever doubts and fears that may arise, embrace this idea and start the ball rolling. As mentioned earlier, this idea is NOT far-fetched; it is decidedly DOABLE.Once we start, scientists in Guinea, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where Ebola started, will join in.Let us seize the initiative NOW, rather than wait for others to do what at least we can START doing for ourselves!Here, meanwhile, is an opportunity to develop a data base of ALL Liberian scientists in the USA, Europe and elsewhere who we are sure would welcome the idea to come forward and do something good for Africa. We call upon Drs. Bryant, Jarrett, Washington and Phelps-Maxwell, Elliott, Slewion, Bernard II and Adama Sirleaf, all of whom are in the USA, to begin now putting together the Liberian scientists’ data base.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)