September 28, 2020

Chung-Fah ready for more service


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EVEN at the ripe old age of 72 and impaled in a wheelchair, Winston Chung-Fah remains upbeat and passionate about the sport of football.

As he received the highest honour that FIFA bestows on football stalwarts, the veteran football coach did not collect FIFA’s Order of Merit as a retiree, but as an individual who stands ready to offer himself for further service. After spending over 50 years moulding countless football talents in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and the USA, ‘Chungy’ is ready to give more.

“I hope I will be given another chance at working with the youths… I don’t know with the new president of CONCACAF (Jeff Webb) if a role could be found for me,” he told the Jamaica Observer on Friday, a day after FIFA president Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter presented him with the instrument of the award in Budapest, Hungary.

“I just believe that it is a sad thing that the knowledge I have is not being utilised. I just hope that a way can be found to use me as I am willing to continue to serve football, especially at the youth level,” Chung-Fah added.

A former technical director of Jamaica and Cayman Islands football, the irrepressible Jamaican said he was humbled by the award and that it was reward for tireless toil in the vineyard of the “world’s greatest sport”.

“I never really expected this, but it is a great feeling and I am humbled by the gesture,” he said by telephone from the convention centre where FIFA’s 62nd annual congress was being held.

Chung-Fah was accompanied to the Eastern European country by attorney-at-law wife, Barbara.

Newly-elected president of CONCACAF, Caymanian Jeff Webb, said Chung-Fah was the logical choice for the award, which is offered to one person from each of the five football confederations each year.

“I think that Winston is very deserving of this honour as he has assisted in the development of the sport in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and in the USA. His contribution has been significant and I was just happy that he’s this year’s recipient,” Webb told this newspaper from Budapest.

President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell, said the charismatic Chung-Fah was the ideal candidate, and said nominating him for the recognition was a source of great pride for him having watched up close the hard work and dedication of the respected coach over the years.

“He is one who has dedicated his whole life to football in Jamaica, the wider Caribbean and the US. Interestingly, ‘Chungy’ also changed the face of football at my alma mater Clarendon College, so I have watched up close his work in developing, in the case of Jamaica, some of our most outstanding players,” said Burrell, who serves as a ranking member of CONCACAF’s Executive Committee.

Burrell is the only other Jamaican to receive FIFA’s Order of Merit for his visionary leadership of Jamaica’s historical appearance to the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.

Chung-Fah, who has been in and out of hospital over the past three years due to ill health, is remembered for coaching Clarendon College to daCosta Cup success in 1977 and 1979, honing the skills of players like Lenworth ‘Teacher’ Hyde, Dennis ‘Den Den’ Hutchinson, Donovan ‘Che’ Wray, Carlton Briscoe, Wayne Whonder and Winston Mamby.

Also, he has worked in the Cayman Islands for over 15 years and once served that country as its technical director.

Chung-Fah is best remembered for founding Santos Football Club in 1964, which went on to win the then Division Two, Division One, Major League and National League titles soon after.

Chung-Fah, who lives in Miami, has been in and out of hospital since with a gout-related ailment that has severely restricted his movements and curtailed his coaching activities.

Medical journals describe gout as “a condition that is usually characterised by attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis.”

“It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood which crystallise and are deposited in the joints, tendons and surrounding tissues. It affects mainly the small joint at the base of the big toe.”
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