The development and standard of Caribbean football have gone backwards, says former Grenada Football Association Technical Director Marcus McIntosh.
Born in the United Kingdom where he acquired his coaching badges, McIntosh said that the Caribbean no longer produces the quality and talent it was once known for.
“When I look at some of the players that we used to produce coming out of this region and went on to do great things, they are not producing as many as they used to. I don’t know why,” McIntosh said.
During an interview with Barbados TODAY, McIntosh spoke about past regional talents such as Trinidad and Tobago midfield great Russell “The Little Magician” Latapy who is currently serving as Barbados’ national head coach. He also mentioned Stern John, Dwight Yorke, Leon Bailey and Luton Shelton.
“When you look at for instance the very said man who is the head coach of your national football team, the Latapys, the Stern Johns and all these guys, we are not producing them on that level anymore.
“So, within the region when you look at Jamaica, for instance, they have had to recall seven to eight guys from the United Kingdom for the national team. That just shows you what is happening. In Grenada it is the same, eight to ten guys (overseas) are coming out to play for the national team,” McIntosh explained.
The 58-year-old questioned what was the real reason Caribbean football was not moving forward. He asked whether it had to do with club structure or coaching education within the Caribbean. However, he believes it has to do with the lack of coaching education.
“What we need is more coaching education. Yes, CONCACAF and FIFA put on these wonderful programs within the region. But when we look at who are the powerhouses in football within the region, it is Canada, the United States and Mexico.
“How does the Caribbean compete with what is going on within these other regions? One, not enough of our coaches are leaving these shores to go abroad to broaden their coaching experience. It is only a handful that is doing it and not enough. So, development-wise it is not happening as quickly as we think it should be,” he said.
Currently, the founder of Grenada Sports Wellbeing, McIntosh has travelled to places like Chile and Peru developing his craft over the years as a coach. He said more coaches in the region need to travel more and expand their knowledge.
“It creates a problem because we are not benefiting our young children. They are turning on their televisions, they can go into Google and tap on a training session in Real Madrid. Then on a Saturday morning, their coaching session is nothing like what they have seen. So, they get frustrated.
“Next thing you know mom and dad go to watch the coaching session and they say he is not up to scratch and they look to leave the country. So, a lot of our good players are leaving the region to seek football elsewhere,” McIntosh added.
As someone who has been around football for such a long time, McIntosh believed that the leagues in the Caribbean need to be properly structured to produce homegrown players.
“When you look at Trinidad, Jamaica, they are the only professional leagues within this region. So, where do our players go? Because the leagues in the other islands are not up to scratch.
“And even the leagues in Trinidad and Jamaica have their problems. So, how do we produce the homegrown players when we don’t have the proper structure in the leagues to produce these players?” he asked.
McIntosh and a group of businessmen formed what is called the Carriacou and Petite Martinique Football Association in Grenada. He revealed that through the association they have formed Hillsborough Town Football Club with the entire emphasis being placed on the structure of the club. Hillsborough, he said, will play in the Major Leagues competition, something that has never happened before.
McIntosh further stated that the club structure in the Caribbean was really poor. “I can go to a low division game in Malaysia and the structure is better than what is in the Caribbean. And you look at where Malaysia is ranked in the world, lower than any Caribbean island probably,” he said.
McIntosh noted that the ‘hands’ of the Caribbean Football Union led by President Randy Harris were tied because there was only so much they could do. With CONCACAF and FIFA being the giant administrators of the game, McIntosh said it made you wonder what power the CFU possessed.
“It is really up to all of the islands in the Caribbean to join together and really make CFU a force within the Caribbean instead of letting CONCACAF and FIFA run everything.
“The Caribbean has to stick together and say this is what we want in our region. But they are all going about it individually. You find Jamaica thinks they are the best, so they don’t have to listen to Grenada, Trinidad thinks they are the best so they don’t have to listen to Barbados. Instead, they all should share ideas and grow together,” McIntosh explained.
During the wide-ranging interview, McIntosh said he believes that Haiti might be the only shining light from the Caribbean to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“The smaller islands do not have the population of your Jamaica, Trinidad. If Guyana had themselves sorted out then maybe. But then again Guyana doesn’t really play a lot of football. It is mostly cricket.
“Among us in the Caribbean, the only shining light that may do something is probably Haiti. But on that side, they have a problem also because of the structure of their FA. But Haiti is producing some good men, women and youth footballers. So, they may be the only shining light to qualify for the World Cup,” McIntosh said.