September 26, 2020

Local Under 15 team to return to Youth Football Tournament in Las Vegas in February 2015

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kfosterThe Under 15 team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme will be returning to Las Vegas for the third time in February to participate in the 2015 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase.

The team will be competing in the Under 15 division with first round games against California Rush Miglietti (California) and America Colorado Inter (Colorado) scheduled for Saturday, February 13, and NSYSL Cordica 00 (Nevada) on Sunday, February 14. The quarter finals will be played on Sunday, February 15 with the semi finals and the finals set for Monday, February 16.

The 25 boys, four staff members – including three coaches and a manager – and a number of parents, will depart Grand Cayman on Wednesday, February 11 and return on Wednesday, February 18.

This will be the third time that our local boys will be competing in the tournament in Nevada. In February

2013, the team travelled to Las Vegas under the tutelage of Head Coach Ernie “Gillie’ Seymour and Assistant Coaches Antwan Seymour and Gonzalo McLaughlin. In 2014, the team returned with Head Coach Ernie Seymour and Assistant Coaches Antwan Seymour and Ken Downey and will return in 2015 with the same contingent of coaches.

The Mayor’s Cup International Showcase is one of two annual football (soccer) tournaments co-hosted by the Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club and the City of Las Vegas, the other being the International Tournament, which is played in October. Each year, the tournament welcomes amateur and professional clubs from Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, China,
Poland, France, Australia, Dominican Republic, Denmark and Africa.

The Under 15s from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme have been together since March 2011, training once per week and playing in as many friendly games and competitions with local and foreign teams in preparation for tournaments such as the Mayor’s Cup.

The Cayman Islands Youth Programme consists of 40 of the best players in the Under 15 age group from all clubs in the Cayman Islands. Twenty-five players from the Programme were recently selected to the Cayman Islands National Under 15 squad scheduled to compete in the 2015 CONCACAF Under 15 Championships in August.

Even though the Programme’s coaching staff was overlooked by the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) to take charge of the Cayman Islands National Under 15 Team, this has not affected the goals and ambitions of the Programme.

The ultimate goal of the Programme over the next few years is to prepare players to represent the Cayman Islands at the Under 15, Under 17, Under 20 and Under 23 and Senior levels as members of the Cayman Islands National Teams.

In addition, and more importantly, teams from the Programme will continue to participate in overseas tournaments in the United States and other countries to gain exposure for players in the hope that they will be seen by high school and college coaches and potentially earn scholarships to further their education and play at a higher level.

Also, we will expose our players to professional youth academies in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. We anticipate that other young Caymanians may follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Martinez, Kray Foster and Nathan Borde, who now attend the Youth Academy at Swindon Football Club (FC) in the United Kingdom, and Cameron Gray at the Youth Academy at Reading Football Club.

In October 2014, 14-year old Programme standout Kareem Foster was invited to train with the Swindon Town FC Youth Academy for one week. He participated in a number of practice games including one against the youth academy team from Southampton FC and his performance impressed the Swindon coaching staff.

The trip to Las Vegas has been financed through corporate sponsorship and fundraising efforts by the Programme’s players, parents and coaches.

Coordinator of the Cayman Islands Youth Programme Neil Murray said, “Our players and coaches are looking forward to returning to Las Vegas. During last year’s tournament, our boys were very impressive, winning four games and losing one and missing out on advancing to the semi finals by one point. Although the team was disappointed with not advancing, they played admirably throughout the tournament gaining the respect of many of their opponents, coaches, spectators and tournament officials and were even featured in the sports section of the Las Vegas Review-Journal – one of the city’s daily newspapers. Our group is a year older, a year more experienced and ready for the challenge.”

On returning from Las Vegas, the 25 players from the Programme will be joining the two Cayman select teams competing in the 2015 Cayman International Youth Football Tournament involving the Under 15 youth academy teams from Swindon Town FC and the Houston Dynamo from Major League Soccer (MLS). The tournament is scheduled for Thursday, February 19, Friday, February 20 and Saturday, February 21.

Special thanks to Flowers Bottled Water for their sponsorship throughout the year and to all the corporate sponsors who assisted with making the trip feasible including British Caymanian Insurance, Rotary, Rawlinson & Hunter, Cayman National, Caribbean Utilities Company, Ltd., and Squadra Uniforms, and to the public who supported the Programme’s fundraising efforts.

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