Football (Soccer and also American)

Available records indicate that football (soccer) was introduced in Jamaica towards the end of the 19th century and 1893 is listed as the year Jamaica formed its first football club.

Jamaica’s first international appearance was against their Caribbean neighbours Haiti in 1925. Andre Chevalon, President of the United Sporting Society invited Jamaica to the French-speaking Caribbean island for a three-match series between the two countries. Jamaica won all three games by 1-0, 2-1 and 3-0. The following year Jamaica hosted their Haitians counterparts at Sabina Park and won by 6-0. The Haitians remained frequent opponents and it was not until 1932 that their run of defeats was broken with a 4-1 home win in Port-au-Prince.

Between 1925 and when Jamaica gained it’s independence 1962, Jamaica had regular games with Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Cuba. Jamaica also played with clubs such as Racing and Violette from Haiti, Corinthians of Britain, the Tigers from Argentina, and even a series of matches with a Caribbean ALL Stars team in 1952. The Caribbean All Stars team included such notables as Michael (The Ruin) Kruin from Suriname and also representing Jamaica were Lindy Delapenha and Gillie Heron. The four games were shared equally with Jamaica winning the second 2-1 and the fourth 1-0 and the All Stars winning the first 5-1 and the third 1-O.

Those friendly international games were the start of Jamaica’s football quest with most of the home matches being played at Sabina Park. Many clubs were established during this time including Kensington, Melbourne, Kingston, Lucas and St. George’s Old Boys, thus providing the talent Jamaica needed at the time.

In 1965 under the leadership of Brazilian coach Jorge Penna, Jamaica first attempted to qualify for the World Cup. This was for the 1966 World Cup finals in England. The preliminary group included Cuba, the Netherlands Antilles, and Jamaica. Jamaica’s first game was against Cuba, which they won 2-0 at Jamaica’s National Stadium. In the qualifying match against the Netherlands Antilles, Jamaica also had a 2-0 victory with both goals coming. In the overseas games Jamaica was held to a goalless draw with the Netherlands Antilles and suffered a 2-1 defeat to Cuba. Jamaica then advanced to the final group of 3, which included Costa Rica and Mexico. The winner of this group would represent the CONCACAF region. Jamaica lost at home to Mexico 3-2. In the return leg in Mexico City, Jamaicans were unprepared for the high altitude and they were defeated 8-0. Jamaica lost 7-0 to Costa Rica in their first encounter and had a 1-1 tie when they played at home.

In 1968, Coach George Hamilton took leadership as Jamaica attempted to qualify for the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. Jamaica had only a couple remaining players from the previous World Cup team and had to rebuild because most of the players had retired or migrated to North America and England. Jamaica lost all of their qualifying games in that year.

Jamaica’s participation in the 1974 World Cup elimination saw the suspension of 17 players on the team because of a lack of discipline on a tour to Bermuda. Jamaica withdrew from the elimination in order to restructure their team.

The 1978 Word Cup in Argentina saw Jamaica playing Cuba and losing 3-1 at the National Stadium and then 2-0 in Havana Cuba. Jamaica did not qualify.

In 1982 Jamaica did not make an attempt for the World Cup Final set in Spain due to insufficient funds and a poorly prepared team. Jamaica did not participate in the 1986 World Cup because affiliation fees were still outstanding to the FIFA.

In preparation for the 1990 World Cup with coach Jeffery Maxwell Jamaica won both preliminary games against Puerto Rico 1-0 in Jamaica and 2-0 at Puerto Rico. The U.S. was the next opponents and was held to a goalless draw. The return leg in the U.S. saw Jamaica losing 5-1 brining an end to their qualifying attempt.

The United States hosted the World Cup 1994. In qualifying, Jamaica beat Puerto Rico 2-1 and was then faced Bermuda, Canada, and El Salvador from which two teams would advance to the final round. Jamaica tied 1-1 with Canada and Bermuda and then lost 2-0 to El Salvador, 1-0 to Canada, 2-1 to El Salvador. Jamaica then beat Bermuda 3-2 but did not qualify.

Under Brazilian Professor Rene Simoes and National Coach Carl Brown, the Jamaican team has become a "Powerhouse" in the Caribbean region and received "Best Mover" award by FIFA in 1996. Jamaica made history by becoming the first English speaking country from the Caribbean to ever qualify for the 1998 world cup final in France. At the World Cup, Jamaica faced Croatia, Argentina and Japan. They lost to Croatia and Argentina, but were 2-1 winners over Japan.

Football is engrained in the Jamaican culture. Attending or supporting the annual high school boys competitions, namely the DaCosta Cup and the Manning Cup, is a ritual for most Jamaicans.

There are also well-established leagues in Jamaica whish is overseen by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) who also manages the national squads.

The most popular league is the National Premier League, which includes club like Tivoli, Reno, Wadadah, Juventus, Boys Town, and Constant Spring. These teams are where most of the members of the National teams hone their skills.

FOOTBALL (American style)
This ssport is an import to Jamaica by Americans who live in Jamaica and Jamaican nationals who lived or studied abroad. It has a very small following. There are no organized programs for this sport and just a few who may throw a ball around at small gatherings. Although this sport is played on a very small scale in Jamaica there are Jamaicans have made their stamp on the national level in the USA. Those include Rohan Marley (son of Bob Marley) who was a great defensive player at the University of Miami and 13-year NFL veteran defensive end Sean Jones who was a member of the Green Bay Super Bowl XXXI championship team. Bowl player. Jones had earned Pro Bowl honours in 1993, and his 113-career sacks place him eighth among the NFL’s all-time leaders.

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