Local team ready to take on international competition

| 06/05/2016
CNS Local Life

Academy Sports Club Select team with head coach Paul Byles

(CNS): A select team from Academy Sports Club will represent the Cayman Islands against other under-15 football teams from England, the US, Cuba, Honduras and Jamaica in the Cayman Airways Youth Football Cup, set for 10-15 May. The tournament is being organised by the West Bay Sports Foundation (WBSF) and features the recently crowned under-15 champions from England, Manchester City. Five Major League Soccer (MLS) franchises are also sending teams from their youth academies.

The local side pools together members of Academy Sports Club’s regular youth teams with others selected by the WSBF to join them for the tournament.

“We’re delighted to have the support of Academy Sports Club with the participation of their team along with some of the other top footballers in the under-15 age group in the Cayman Islands,” said WBSF co-founder Arden Rivers.

“Tournaments like this are important to help build the skills of our footballers and we’re pleased to have a club of Academy’s calibre representing the Cayman Islands.”

Academy Sports Club’s players have been preparing under the tutelage of U-15 head coach Paul Byles and have also been competing as a unit in local leagues and competitions. They are also preparing for other local and overseas tournaments in the coming months.

“The preparation has been very good. The focus has been ensuring that the West Bay Sports Foundation players are able to gel with the team. That’s been the main focus,” said Byles. “All of these players play a lot of football already. It’s just a question of how we can get them working together as a unit and I think it’s going really well.”

The players are also excited about playing in the tournament, in which they have been grouped with Club Deportivo Victoria from Honduras, IMG Academy from Florida, and MLS franchise Seattle Sounders.

“I’m very excited because it gives us exposure against foreign teams and tests how our country is in terms of international competition,” said Academy team captain Dominic Owens, who will suit up as a centre back for the Academy SC Select team.

Matthew Haynes, another defender on the team, said: “It feels very special because it gives us a chance as Cayman to showcase our skills to visiting teams from other countries.”

The left back added, “I’m very excited but nervous at the same time because playing against big clubs it’ going to be nerve-racking.”

Although his players are accustomed to competing in overseas tournaments, Byles acknowledges the experience of the Cayman Airways Youth Football Cup will be noticeably different.

“I think the dynamics here is that they are at home and they have their fans and their families and their friends able to see them in that kind of international environment. So, I think that’s a really exciting thing for them. It’s also nice for them to be able to play against the high-calibre teams [playing in the tournament],” he said.

“When we travel, we face similar competition but there are some really, really good clubs coming up in this May tournament and we’re looking to get exposed to that type of competition.”

He explained that player development will be at the centre of his team’s plans for the competition.

“The focus is on trying to do the right thing and the focus is not so much on winning; If you lose doing the right thing then you have done an awesome job. So the idea is to try to play the right way.

“Inevitably, as statistics will have it, when you do the right thing, most of the time you’re actually very successful competitively. We think that will come but we don’t want to focus on that too much,” Byles said.

The Academy SC Select team opens play on the second day of the tournament against Club Deportivo Victoria at 6:30pm Wednesday, 11 May, at Ed Bush Stadium in West Bay. They play at the same time the following day against IMG Academy and complete group play against the Seattle Sounders on Friday at 8pm.

For more information on the tournament, including full match schedules, visit the Cayman Youth Football Cup website  or like their Facebook page for further updates

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Category: Football, Sports, Youth

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