Too often, we wait until our pioneers are gone before we shower them with the praise they deserve.

The Jamaica Football Federation ensured this wouldn’t be the case on Monday when they held a ceremony honoring four stalwarts of football in Jamaica at the federation’s headquarters.

The first set of honorees included Geoffrey Maxwell, Leander Marshall, Everton “Bob West” McLeary and Allan “Skill” Cole.

According to Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts, this initiative was long overdue and is one that he plans to do annually.

“We really want to use this opportunity to express my personal views and those of the JFF. We would have previously planned similar exercises which really did not work out as we would’ve liked and we took a decision that we would select four or five persons annually,” he said.

“Here we are today showing our love and appreciation for the commitment, love, loyalty and the level of entertainment that these players and administrators have given to the sport,” he added.

Ricketts explained that this initiative is a part of the JFF’s efforts to re-connect with past players.

“The JFF is intent on ensuring that we re-establish a relationship with our past players and persons who would have given support to football over the years,” he said.

“Those were the days when service to sport, and especially football, was straight volunteerism,” he added.

Geoffrey Maxwell represented Jamaica as a defender before transitioning into coaching.

He guided Excelsior High to one Manning Cup title and two Walker Cup titles in the 1980s and also coached Waterhouse to the National League trophy in 1998.

Schoolboy football apart, Maxwell coached at the club level with Santos, Waterhouse, Harbour View, Tivoli Gardens, Arnett Gardens, St George's SC, the JDF, and Maverley/Hughenden, among others.

Leander Marshall served as president of the Portmore Football League for over 30 years.

Everton “Bob West” McLeary was a respected administrator to the JFF 30 years ago and sponsored a football competition holding his name. This was part of the KSAFA ecosystem.

Prior to his post at the JFF, he served as a Journalist and a Policeman. He was seriously injured after being knocked down by a vehicle when he was on his motorcycle on Mountain View Avenue in 1994.

Unfortunately, as a result of this accident and the head injuries he sustained, he wasn’t the same. McLeary helped to improve the quality of administration and getting things in place even when resources were not there. McLeary is currently at a nursing home in Manchester.

Allan “Skill” Cole is widely regarded as Jamaica’s greatest ever footballer.

At the peak of his powers, Cole was a midfield maestro local fans compared to Pele. He remains the Jamaica's youngest senior football international, donning national colors against a Brazilian team when he was only 15 years old.

In addition to his local exploits, Cole represented the Atlanta Chiefs in the NASL and Nautico in Brazil.

“First I want to thank the federation for honoring us,” Cole said on behalf of the honorees.

“I cherish these things because I remember in the early days when we were playing football and we didn’t get any form of honor. You see schoolboys today getting citations, plaques and all these things when they score goals, we didn’t get those things. The game has evolved and that is very good” he added.

Cole, who has had his fair share of health issues, made the point that people must be honored more while they are living.

“Honor us before we die. Don’t wait until we die before you honor us. It’s sad and it happens all over the country. Let a man live in his glory,” he said.


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