Youth Football Cup kicks off

| 10/05/2016
CNS Local Life

(L-R) Cline Glidden (WBSF); acting CIFA president Bruce Blake; Paul Tibbetts (Cayman Airways); Alan Wright and John Mulling (Manchester City FC coaches), tourism councillor Joey Hew and sports assistant chief officer Joel Francis

(CNS): The Cayman Airways Youth Football Cup, kicks off today (10 May) featuring 12 under-15 teams, all but one of them international squads. Group play begins at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex with five games, with the first kick-off at 2pm. Fixtures move to Ed Bush Stadium in West Bay from Wednesday through Saturday and return to Truman Bodden Sports Complex for the third place playoff and the finals on Sunday.

Among the teams that have flown in for the tournament is a squad from the highly regarded Manchester City FC Academy in England. “Having the likes of Manchester City here is a dream come true for a lot of us, particularly at the West Bay Sports Foundation (WBSF),” said Cline Glidden, member of event host WBSF, at a pre-event press conference.

“We think the opportunities that can be provided by having the team of the calibre of Manchester City [here] will only bode well for Cayman and the work that government is doing in regards to sports tourism.”

Academy Sports Club is fielding a select team as the lone local side in the tournament. Other participating teams are Swindon Town (England), Seattle Sounders (US/Major League Soccer), LA Galaxy (US/MLS), Houston Dynamo (US/MLS), DC United (US/MLS), Orlando City FC (US/MLS), IMG Academy (Florida), Club Deportivo Victoria (Honduras), Cavalier Football Club (Jamaica) and the Cuba Federation National Under-15 Team.

The tournament has received wide support, with endorsement and sponsorship from government through the tourism and sports ministries, and corporate help from title sponsor Cayman Airways, among the many businesses involved.

“Sports tourism is a rapidly growing sector of the industry and over the longer term, the prestige of hosting these types of tournaments on our shores helps to build awareness of the Cayman Islands as a sports tourism destination,” said tourism councillor Joey Hew.

“Events like this also help to increase our brand awareness among potential travellers, which in turn helps to drive visitation to our Islands,” Hew added.

Joel Francis, assistant chief officer in sports, said his ministry saw the benefit in helping the WBSF to pull off the event.

“Cayman faces a significant challenge in funding adequate competition at the different stages of the athlete development process. It costs upwards of $25,000 to send a team of about 16 athletes and a small team of officials overseas for about three or four days,” he said.

“So, when the opportunity arose to have such a high-level quality of competition held on local soil that the entire community can take part in, the ministry decided it would support this tournament.”

He noted football’s ability to bring the people of the Cayman Islands together and to show national pride.

“Football is one of those special sports, especially in the Cayman context, that it is played by the widest cross-section of the community and many would remember the coming together behind the Cayman team at the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 tournament several years ago,” Francis said.

The full match schedule is available on the Cayman Youth Football Cup website


Category: Football, Sports, Youth

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