One of Jamaica’s prominent professional football players, Leon Bailey, has shared his experiences becoming a professional football player and the obstacles he encountered. He also disclosed that there is “corruption” in the Jamaica Football Federation (J.F.F) and that high-ranking members tried to prevent him from advancing his career.
The 25-year-old also reflected on the hardships he faced when certain high-ranking members of the Jamaica Football Federation tried to hinder his career at a tender age. “Dem a fight mi from mi a likkle yout…Dem even try block mi from going to Europe. Di man dem link embassy and dem ting deh fi nuh mek mi get di visa,” he continued.
He added that at the age of 12, he had to get his European visa in Cuba because the JFF had blocked the Jamaican embassies from giving him the visa. The footballer, who hails from the Cassava Piece vicinity, added that the Jamaican system was far too corrupt. Bailey, a winger for Premier League club Aston Villa and the Jamaica national team, also spoke on his aspiration to represent and support his country, despite the “fight” he received from the JFF. He shared that all he wants is to see Jamaica unified and moving forward as one nation.
During the interview session on the Let’s Be Honest podcast, the St. Andrew native reflected on his rebellious years at Kingston College, including when he realised his potential as a football player around the age of nine and his father, Craig Butler (now his manager), approaching him with the idea of pursuing football professionally.
Bailey expressed that he believes Jamaica lacks infrastructure as he spoke about the Manning Cup Football Competition, which he called “a joke thing,” compared to his experiences in Europe. Manning Cup is an annual football contest among secondary high school under-19 boys’ teams. He stated that many talented players rose up in the Manning Cup season and disappeared when the period passed.
“I feel like we lack infrastructure long time because we don’t have a proper system. We need a proper system from the youth stage go right up to the first team, and we don’t have none,” Bailey explained. “I always say this many years now; once we have a system that everybody is used to and coaches and not so much politics around football and actually have people that want to see the nation go forward, we can improve in so many different ways.”
Bailey also talks about “World Cup”, watch the video below for more.