U-15 football may bring 3,000

| 11/07/2013

13548762-sylwetki-fanow-obchodzi-gola-na-mecz-pilki-noznej-pilka-nozna (237x300).jpg(CNS): With around 800 players and officials coming to Cayman next month for the CONCACAF Under-15 Tournament, the addition of friends, family and fans could see almost 3,000 people coming to the islands during the almost two week football contest. Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell said that the tournament, a development competition for young players, could be worth more than $20 million to the local economy. With a hotel tab of more than one million dollars being picked up by the regional football federation just for players and officials, plus a need for some 50 rental cars, food and drink and other sundries, the ultimate spend by them and their guests with local business is expected to be many more millions of dollars.

From the preparation beforehand and the flight revenue for Cayman Airways, which is organising charters to bring teams, officials and guests to the contest, to the money that will be spent by the many guests coming with the players and officials, Cayman can expect a significant boost to the economy during what is traditionally one of the slower months of the year.

Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, Cayman Islands Football Association VP Bruce Blake, Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden, Tourism Minster Moses Kirkconnell and former sports minister Mark Scotland all lauded the hard work of everyone involved so far and promised an entertaining event that would being economic reward and, more importantly, provide great experience for Cayman’s national teenage players.

The tournament will see 23 teams coming to the Cayman Islands from the Caribbean and Central America to compete in the tournament, which is part of the vision of Jeff Webb, the president of the regional football body, to develop youth football. As a Caymanian, Webb was able to pull strings to enable CIFA to host what is a major completion that could open the doors for more sports tourism events, an area which Kirkconnell said the government was extremely keen to exploit.

“It is an investment for the future, too, as our goal for sports tourism is as a partnership and there is not a better partnership than one that builds youth programmes,” the tourism minister said, adding that government would do what it could to make this a successful tournament. In addition to the millions that CONCACAF will spend in Cayman for the tournament, he said, the money spent by the guests and the ultimate showcasing of Cayman would have a massive multiplying impact, making the tournament worth more than $20 million for the domestic economy.

Bodden said it was a “win win situation” as it would be great experience for local teams as well as for the tourism sector.  “It is pleasing to see the return of international football to Cayman and it will be a great stimulus for our players. We have some already on football scholarship overseas and this should generate more local interest,” he said, adding that it would help Cayman to measure where youth football is as he encouraged everyone to come out to the games.

Mark Scotland appealed for more volunteers. So far, around 70 people had committed, he said, but CIFA expected that it would need around 200 people in just about every sphere, including IT, security, administrative support, as well as ushers, and many more hands were needed to help the football competition go well.

Blake explained that the 24 teams would play each other in four groups of six at three of Cayman’s local grounds but other pitches would be used for practice. The eventual winners of each group will move on to the semi-finals and the two winning teams will then meet in the final at the Truman Bodden Stadium. He said all of the first round games would be free but there would be a $10 charge for the semis and $15 for the final. He said he had big hopes for Cayman to make it through to at least the semis as the local teen players had shown they were playing well at the recent friendly matches with a visiting Honduran team.

He, too, urged people to volunteer and explained that the money being spent was targeted at local service providers but where Cayman business could not meet the needs they would have to buy overseas.

Blake also pointed to some of the logistical issues that a small nation like Cayman faces with such a major tournament, from not enough coaches to ferry players and officials around to a shortage of ambulances, but he said they were being as resourceful as possible. For example, Cayman’s school buses could become the team coaches for the duration of the contest.

In addition, Blake called for sponsors from the local economy to help CIFA offset some of the costs it was expected to fund to upgrade facilities at the pitches. Although the bulk of the tab for the contest is being picked up by CONCACAF, government is spending around $200,000 on the upgrades and CIFA would also have to pay some of the bills.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    $200k given to a FIFA sponsored tournament for facility upgrades. FIFA have billions in the bank and have development programs that can be used for these purposes. It happens all over the world but Cayman Government pays. LOL

  2. Whodatis says:

    Excellent news … and not a single cruise berthing pier was required to make it happen!

    Again, I call for us to focus on expanding and improving our airport facilities so we can build upon the sector of our tourism industry that most benefits a wider cross-section of our community.

    (There are far too many risks and variables that will impact the success of our cruise tourism sector to justify such expensive investment – especially in these austere times.)

  3. Anonymous says:

    What does the PPM mean by doing whatever it can to support them, does that involve funding? If that is the case how can any government give funds to a wealthy organization like FIFA and CONCACAF

  4. Anonymous says:

    How can I sign up to be a translator?? Please someone comment

    CNS:Volunteers can email cifa@gmail.com, call the CIFA office at 949-5775 or visit the CIFA office at Poindexter Road, Prospect (near to the Prospect Primary School).