Youth football team competing in Las Vegas tournament

| 05/02/2016
Cayman News Service

The under-16 team from Cayman that is heading to Las Vegas

(CNS): The under-16 team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme will be returning to Las Vegas for the fourth time to participate in the 2016 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase this month. The team will be competing in the under-16 division with first round games against US teams starting Saturday, 13 February.

The Cayman team will be pitted against LA United FA Pre-Academy (California) and Sparta United Sparta 00 Premier (Utah) on the first day and Farmington SA Elite 99 (Connecticut) on Sunday, 14 February. The quarterfinals will also be played on Sunday, in the evening, with the semifinals and the finals set for Monday, 15 February.

Accompanying the boys for the first time will be a female team that will be participating in the under-17 girls’ division. The team comprises players from a number of local clubs including Alliance SC, Sunset FC, Tigers FC and Academy SC.

Last February, the team travelled to Las Vegas to compete in the under-15 division under the tutelage of head coach Ernie “Gillie’ Seymour, assistant coach Ken Downey, and assistant coach and manager Antwan Seymour.

Neil Murray, coordinator of the programme, spoke of the upcoming trip. “Our players and coaches are looking forward to returning to Las Vegas for the fourth time. The experiences the boys have encountered during the previous three trips have been invaluable in their development as players on and off the field.

“We have always had high expectations for this particular group and following on from their history-making third-place finish in the CFU Under-15 Boys’ Championships last August, we anticipate an even better performance in the upcoming Under-17 World Cup Playoffs later this year.”

Cayman News Service

The under-17 girls team that will be participating in the tournament for the first time

The Mayor’s Cup International Showcase is one of two annual football 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 May. Each year, the tournament welcomes amateur and professionally affiliated clubs from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Russia, the UK, Germany, China, Poland, France, Australia, Dominican Republic, Denmark and Africa.

This year, the under-16 division will comprise teams from the US, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Germany, specifically Borussia Monchengladbach, who play in Bundesliga 1.

The under-16 team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme have been together since March 2011, training once a week and playing in many friendly games and competitions with local and foreign teams in preparation for tournaments such as the Mayor’s Cup.

The programme consists of 35 of the best players in the under-17 age group from all clubs in the Cayman Islands. Last August, 18 players from the programme represented Cayman as part of the under-15 national team that placed third in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-15 Boys’ Championships in Sint Maarten.

In July this year, these players will represent the Cayman Islands in the CFU Under-17 World Cup Playoffs for a chance to play in the CONCACAF Under-17 World Cup Qualifiers scheduled for February 2017.

The ultimate goal of the programme over the next few years is to prepare players to represent the Cayman Islands at the under-20, 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 US and other countries to gain exposure for players with the hope that high school and college coaches will notice them, giving these young footballers the opportunity to earn scholarships to further their education and play at a higher level.

The players also get exposed to professional youth academies in the UK and other parts of Europe. A number of players travelling with this group have already experienced life at professional academies, in particular, Kareem Foster and Nicholas Chung in the UK and Devonte Morejon in the Netherlands.

The trip to Las Vegas is being financed through Government assistance, corporate sponsorship and fundraising efforts by the programme’s players, parents and coaches.

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Category: Football, Sports, Youth

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