Even though they may not get a chance to grace the field of play in this tournament, a number of rookie Reggae Boyz have instead found peace in the uplifting experience.
Just to be in the squad, training with their more experienced teammates and learning priceless lessons about the life of an international player, has had its own rewards.
Though ultimately every footballer wants to be in a team’s starting XI, 4 of Jamaica’s squad members for the Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup are making the best of being on the sidelines.
Twenty-year-old Reno FC midfielder Shawn Genus admits that being with the Boyz has been an eye-opener.
“Being around so many quality players has propelled me, and I have been learning from them every day as some of them are in a more professional environment,” said the former St Elizabeth Technical High School star.
“I have been talking to Oneil Fisher and Jermaine Johnson and other players, and I have been asking them about the professional environment, and they have given me very important advice which I have stored in my brain,” said Genus.
He has found that the demands of the game at the senior international level are far above anything at the local ranks.
“The training here is done at higher intensity; everything moves at a faster pace than what we are used to back in Jamaica. And as they say, you train hard and win easy.
“Also at this level, the pace in games is much faster than we are used to, so if you train fast, then you will get used to that pace,” Genus shared with the Jamaica Observer yesterday, just hours before the Boyz were due to wager their Caribbean title against Curacao at the Stade Pierre Aliker.
Former National Under-17 representative Javain Brown is soaking up the experience being around the big Boyz, but he wouldn’t mind getting a winning medal, even if he didn’t kick the ball once.
“It would be a great feeling as a junior player to be a part of a Reggae Boyz team, to win a Caribbean Cup,” he said.
The 18-year-old Kingston College Manning Cup captain said he has learnt to “work harder, think faster, and to just be more focused”.
“Playing at this level is not easy, as you have to put in the work. When I get back to my club I will show my teammates what I have learnt… also I would tell them what it takes to play at this level, as a lot of players think that getting into the national team is an easy thing,” said the Harbour View FC defender.
Arnett Gardens FC goalkeeper Damion Hyatt, who has been Europe-based Dwayne Miller’s understudy here, has paid his respect to the veteran Reggae Boy.
“Dwayne Miller and I speak a lot and he told me what I need to do if I want to play at the higher level, and he and I share information,” said the 31-year-old.
Hyatt is taking in all he can as he sets his sights on becoming Jamaica’s number one.
“I want to be the number one goalkeeper, but I know it is going to take hard work and dedication, and, knowing me, once I get my chance I am going to take it,” said the custodian whose heroics helped his club to the Red Stripe Premier League title.
Hyatt, who hails from Linstead in St Catherine, noted that goalkeeper coach Warren Barrett, a Jamaica France World Cup veteran, possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience, and he has tapped into his stream.
“Warren Barrett is a great goalkeeper coach and, as you know, he kept at the highest level, and I am learning from him every day… I have learnt a lot of things, but the main one is that the fitness level has to be up because we already know how to keep goal,” he said.
Hyatt, who was called to the last Caribbean Cup training squad back in 2014 but sustained an injury at a critical time, said he would be happy to lift the trophy, this time around.
“It would be nice for the country if we could bring home the trophy even if I didn’t get a game… but whether we win or not, it would still be a great experience for me being in the tournament for the first time,” Hyatt said.
Jamie Robinson, the UWI FC wing back, said “I am loving the experience”.
“This is my first call-up to the senior team, so win or lose, this has been a good experience for me… I think I have improved aspects of my game since I have been here, especially with my crosses,” said the 25-year-old.
Source: The Jamaica Observer