Young footballers gain experience in Las Vegas

| 22/02/2016
Cayman News Service

Kareem Foster (centre) scored two of the team’s four goals in the 2016 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase

(CNS): The under-16 boys’ team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme and the Alliance FC under-17 girls’ team recently returned from the 2016 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase in Las Vegas, Nevada. The boys’ team, playing under the name Cayman Select, returned with a record of one win, one draw and two losses, finishing in second place in Bracket 7 in the Under-16 Generation Adidas group.

This was the fourth year in a row that the team competed in the popular youth football tournament in Nevada and the first year in the Under 16 division.

The girls’ team, which also played as Cayman Select, lost their three group stage games in Bracket 7 in the Under-17 Chapman Auto group as well as their consolation game. This was the first trip to the tournament by a Cayman girls’ team.

The boys’ travelling squad consisted of 22 players, six staff members – including three coaches, a manager and physiotherapist – along with a number of parents. The boys were under the tutelage of head coach Ernie “Gillie’ Seymour, assistant coach Ken Downey and assistant coach and manager Antwan Seymour.

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 is the International Tournament, which is played in May. Each year, the showcase welcomes amateur and professional clubs from around the world and this year, the under-16 division comprised teams from the US, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Germany.

The under-16 team from the Youth Football Programme has been together since March 2011, training once a week and playing in as many friendly games and competitions as possible with local and foreign teams in preparation for tournaments such as the Mayor’s Cup. A majority of the boys who travelled to Las Vegas also competed in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-15 Boys’ Championships that was held in Sint Maarten in August 2015.

At the tournament, the Caymanian youngsters defeated LA United FA Pre-Academy 2-1 in the group stage, drew 1-1 with Farmington SA Elite 99 from Connecticut, lost to eventual group winners and quarter finalists Sparta United Premier JK 0-1 and Folsom SC Fusion from Canada 1-2 in the consolation game.

Tournaments such as the Mayor’s Cup serve as valuable tools in the development of the players as they encounter various teams from around North America and Europe who play with different styles and employ different tactics.

Although a little disappointed with the boys’ results, Seymour was positive when speaking about the experience. “Much like last year, the games we lost were very evenly contested and if we had cut down on mistakes and finished our chances, we could have won those games and the game we drew and advanced to the quarterfinals,” he said.

“The boys need to understand the importance of preparation and playing consistently when involved in tournaments such as this. Special thanks to the coaches who continue to work tirelessly in preparing this team for not only this tournament but for what’s ahead. Many of these players will be representing their country in this summer’s CFU Under-17 World Cup Playoffs so we know that this experience will be beneficial in their individual preparations.”

The trip to Las Vegas was financed through Government and 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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