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Canada's Boyz: Toronto trio ponders national options


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Canada's Boyz: Toronto trio ponders national options

Published: Sunday | November 28, 2010

Gordon Williams , Gleaner Writer

On that August evening in 2008, as he got ready to watch the Reggae Boyz play Canada, Ashtone Morgan didn't hesitate choosing which colours to wear for the World Cup qualifier in Toronto.

"I have a Jamaican jersey, I have a Canada jersey," Morgan explained with a laugh over two years later. "... I had my Jamaican jersey on."

The decision was simple. Morgan's father Wayne, his biggest football influence, is from Kingston. The teenager grew up on patois and reggae. He loves jerk chicken.

But today the choice is fuzzier. Morgan was born and raised in Canada. Now 19, he has already represented the North American nation at several youth levels, and is poised to begin a professional career, possibly with Major League Soccer club Toronto FC, where he is enrolled in its football academy.

Canada is home, where Morgan embraced everything he knows - family, education and football. He visited Jamaica once - as a child. So Morgan leans heavily on the red and white of Canada. Yet he is not ready to concede he has worn a Jamaican jersey for the last time.

"I like to keep my options open," said Morgan in a more serious tone while attending a recent training camp in the United States with Canada's under-23 team. "You never know."

Morgan, a left back who has drawn comments about his resemblance to England international Ashley Cole in looks, playing style and position on the field, wasn't the only one in Canada's camp considering that dilemma. Forward/midfielder Kyle Porter and Sean Hart, a defender, were also in that squad. Both were born in Canada to Jamaican parents and represented the country in youth football.

Until the trio represents Canada in a senior level competition officially sanctioned by football's governing body FIFA, such as World Cup qualifiers, they remain eligible to play for Jamaica. Like Morgan, Porter and Hart are not ready to shut the door on future possibilities.

"Right now I'd probably be leaning more towards Canada," said Hart. " ... But you never know what happens."

DEEP ROOTS

The connections to 'yard' run deep for all three. Porter, 20, admitted that matches he has played against Jamaica - such as Canada's 3-0 win in an under-17 World Cup qualifier and a 1-0 loss in a friendly against the under-20s - have stirred "mixed emotions because I have Jamaican blood." But, he claimed, it has never affected his play.

"I was fighting for Canada," said Porter, who played in Germany, but is with Canada's Vancouver Whitecaps, which is set to join MLS. "I had no regrets beating Jamaica."

Like Morgan and Porter, Hart, who is currently attached to the Schultz Academy in Florida, said he played for Canada because that country called first. Until recently, Jamaica never contacted them.

Hart said neither of his Kingston-born parents - father Ian and mother Sandra - pushed him towards one country or the other. Porter claimed his father Neville, from Montego Bay, wanted him to represent Jamaica, but he could not get the Jamaica Football Federation's (JFF) attention. Morgan said his dad has "mentioned" him playing for Jamaica, but has left the decision to him.

The three have been friends for a while. All were raised with strong Jamaican culture and played for Toronto area teams with a heavy Jamaican flavour. The link has them pondering. When asked if he ever ruled representing Jamaica, Hart's answer was a quiet "no

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Really all depends on where these three fall in Canada's future depth charts. I think we have the upper hand in these cases, mind you all it could take is a call from the JFF and they could be gone. Time will truly tell, but hopefully it won't be another Bunbury or Ass-smear situation.

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I think that most of these situations really boil down to a generational issue. If these guys mentioned in the article end up having kids, do you think their children would ponder playing for Jamaica? Could they even if they wanted to?

We've got a ton of immigrants and/or their Canadiand-born children playing soccer in Canada now, and who have laid the foundation for a real soccer culture in this country. As long as future generations stick with the game instead of migrating to hockey or football as has happened in the past it will bode well for our national programs.

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You know what, I respect them more for being honest at this stage. Where as other players say they are loyal and once their agents get a hold of them they change their minds.

However, I'm interested to see what TFC would do if Ashton Morgan went to play for Jamaica.

On a side note, this multiple loyalties out of Toronto players will continue no matter how much Canada improves. It is the culture of the city more than anything IMO. I'm sure some will be offended by that comment

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I can understand players born in other countries having mixed allegiances (if they haven't played for us and benefitted from that for years). If you are born and raised here and playing in the Canadian system then it is disgraceful to be considering playing for another country. If you are not good enough for Canada or the coaches/CSA aren't giving you a chance then fine play for another country but don't think of playing for another country when you are in our national team program already.

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It has become obvious that for the majority of football players everywhere, representing a national country is more of a business decision, rather than one of allegiance. This is exactly why we hear "I'm keeping my options open" all the time. Athletes (or more importantly, those representing their financial and career interests) know that performing well (or being seen at all) on the international stage is a way of attracting club attention and bettering their "employment situation."

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Before anyone gets too upset over this remember where the reporter was from! I spoke with Ashtone's uncle this morning and he was somewhat shocked, he speaks to him on a fairly regular basis and will ask him about the interview and his intentions, I'll report when I hear something! For a player at the youth level to keep his options open, it may make sense, who knows if these young guys are even going to be in Canada's plans at the next level!

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I know Ashtones' Dad, just talked to him this afternoon in fact. He's not playing for Jamaica. He also told me TFC academy is only interested in the kids who will play for Canada.

damn right... glad to see it already may of effected a decision but dunno if its for hte great in the long term

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As has been reported, Ashtone is NOT interested in playing for Jamaica! In fact the family is upset about the article from the Jamaican newspaper! His uncle, who I work with spoke to his mother yesterday at my request!

I'm not sure what this means but on twitter Kyle Porter tweeted two separate times about the article. First asking people to read it, then the links itself. You'll have to highlight it in order to read it.

http://twitter.com/KylePorter19/status/9107159069491200

http://twitter.com/KylePorter19/status/9107377680814082

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As has been reported, Ashtone is NOT interested in playing for Jamaica! In fact the family is upset about the article from the Jamaican newspaper! His uncle, who I work with spoke to his mother yesterday at my request!

Can you ask him if Ashtone actually wore a Jamaica jersey to the Canada-Jamaica match in '08?

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