Archive for August 30th, 2013

CONCACAF Under-15 Championships round-up

| 30/08/2013 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The Under-15 championships provided a lot of tightly contested matches as well as some staggering landslides but the quality of Caribbean football is on the rise, especially from the smaller nations such as Bermuda, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Aruba, and our very own Cayman. The bigger countries that were expected to do well competing for the crown showed quality that many in Cayman have not seen for a long time. Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti have all showed why they are the top countries in the CONCACAF region.

In Group A, Bermuda and Cayman were considered favourites by many to top the group, with Cayman coming out with emphatic 12-0 and 8-0 victories over St Maarten and US Virgin Islands respectively. 

Aruba and Bahamas tried to make life as difficult as possible for Bermuda and Cayman, but both teams came through all games with considerable ease. Aruba finished 3rd in the group, followed by Bahamas, US Virgin Islands and St Maarten. They were many who saw Cayman as a real goal threat and believed they could go on to win the Group.

It was not to be, though, as Cayman lost their third game of the tournament 3-0 to Bermuda. However, the Cayman National Team can hold their heads high, winning 4 out of their 5 group games and drawing 2-2 in a friendly game in Cayman Brac on Saturday against a strong Belize side that beat rivals Jamaica 3-1 earlier in the tournament. Cayman can also boast about being the highest goal scorers of the tournament, with 27 goals in 5 games, as well as having the tournament’s top goal scorer, Leighton Thomas Jr, with 11 goals. Thomas scored 5 goals against St Maarten, 3 goals against US Virgin Islands and 3 goals in their final game of the group against Aruba to ensure they finished 2nd place.

Group B and Group C were one team less than Group A & D, but the competition in each group was still immense and deeply contested. Group B and D were definitely considered the groups of death in the tournament, with a number of potential teams vying to win the groups and entering the semi-finals.

Group B had Guatemala, Belize and Jamaica. All considered themselves favourites coming into the tournament. Jamaica won their opening two games 4-0 against Grenada and 2-0 in the following match against St Lucia. The first big test of the group came when Belize played Jamaica. Jamaica, being the second best supported team at the tournament, was defeated 3-1 by Belize in front of a pro Jamaican crowd with the green, yellow and black colours very apparent in the tournament from the fans. Guatemala then defeated Belize 2 days later by a goal to nil. Any chance of Belize or Jamaica going through was dashed when Guatemala beat Jamaica by a 1-0 score line to top the group. Grenada finished 4th with their only win coming against St Lucia. One of the most entertaining groups of the tournament surely didn’t disappoint, with some of the most contested battles of the tournament on show. Guatemala’s Jose Manuel Funes will surely be pleased by his teams’ results and they will be flying high with confidence after coming out of a tough group with 4 wins out of 4.

Group C saw Honduras in action; another popular team in Cayman due to the large Honduran population on island. They blew the competition away, playing some of the best football seen at the tournament so far. Their vision and skill was sometimes mesmerizing. Going forward they looked like they could score at will and were definitely seen as a team to be feared by all in the competition. Anything less than a 5-0 defeat seemed unacceptable for Honduras. Their defence was water tight as they went through the group phase without a goal conceded.

Players like Darixon Vuelto and Italo Ramos proved too much quality for the others in the group. Guadeloupe was the only team in the group to put up a fight and did not suffer such a heavy loss from Honduras, 2-0. Guadeloupe over the last few years has shown they are a growing football nation and this tournament showcased their qualities. They finished runners up winning all their other games against St Kitts, Saint Martin (not to get confused with St Maarten) and Curacao. Who also finished in their group in that order respectively.

The final Group, Group D saw top contenders El Salvador, Haiti, Martinique and Puerto Rico pitted against each other, which were sure to be closely contested. This was a topsy turvy group where anything could happen and anyone of the top four teams mentioned could advance. Antigua & Barbuda and Saint Vincent were out of their depth in this group and struggled to keep their head above water. El Salvador easily despatched Antigua 3-0 in the first game, soon after Puerto Rico oversaw a closelywon 2-1 battle with Martinique.

Antigua & Barbuda got their only win of the tournament, a 2-1 victory over St Vincent. The biggest shock of the tournament came when Martinique picked themselves up from their earlier defeat to inflict a 4-0 drumming of Haiti, who were hugely disappointed with themselves after the game. El Salvador came away with a most deserved 3-1 win over Puerto Rico. Haiti started coming into their own a little better when they got the ball into the old onion bag 5 times against Antigua & Barbuda.

Martinique and El Salvador played the most closely fought match in the group to a 1-1 draw next, followed by Puerto Rico thrashing Saint Vincent 6-0. Haiti defeated Saint Vincent in the next round of matches in the group, 2-0. Haiti continued their hot streak winning 1-0 against Puerto Rico. Martinique defeated Antigua & Barbuda by a 2-0 score line and El Salvador conjured a 4-1 victory over Saint Vincent. In the final round of games, El Salvador needed just a draw to progress on to the last four while Haiti needed to defeat El Salvador to have any hopes of reaching the next round.

The match ended in a closely fought draw and El Salvador progressed to the knockout stages of the tournament. Martinique finished runners up with a 7-0 mauling over Saint Vincent and the final group game saw Puerto Rico crush Antigua and Barbuda 5-0. El Salvador showed what few teams had; a second gear. Only Honduras and Guatemala had that second gear that set them apart from their group rivals. They were hungry and set the tone of play with quick 1, 2’s and possession throughout the tournament. El Salvador’s Head Coach, Agustin Castillo was visibly pleased with his team’s results at the semi-finals press conference and was thankful for a fantastic tournament being held so far.

The Semi-Final round of the tournament saw Bermuda vs. Guatemala and Honduras vs. El Salvador. The first Semi-Final saw both teams played the full 70 minutes plus extra time before they went to penalties. Bermuda’s discipline and tactics is what got them through the game, exceptional discipline for some boys who were 13, 14 and 15 years old. They took a shock lead 15 minutes before halftime, through Jordan Lambe. However, Guatemala found themselves right back in it 3 minutes after the break, through their forward, Cifuentes, who scored in his fifth consecutive match in the competition. Both battled for the reminder of the game to take it to penalties.

Osagi Bascome one of the best players in the tournament and nephew of Coach Bascome converted the first penalty kick for Bermuda, followed by Lambe. Guatemala also converted their first 2, through Yanes, and goal scorer Cifuentes. Forward Lewis and Lowe of Bermuda could not convert their penalties as it was left to Raymundo and Mario Rodas to drive home the winning penalty that sent Guatemala into the finals.

In the other Semi, Central American rivals Honduras played El Salvador. These two will have known a lot about each other coming into this game and the intensity was shown right away with El Salvador seeing 4 yellow cards in the opening 30 minutes; 3 in a 3 minute span. It was obvious that El Salvador were drawing fouls to slow Honduras’ play down; Darixon Vuelto found himself into the book for Honduras as well, who cutted a frustrated figure. Possession was little for Honduras, always making 3 or 4 passes and hitting it long in hopes of benefiting from a 50/50 ball.

After halftime though, things changed. The game began to open up and it took all but 2 minutes for Honduras to break the deadlock through second half substitute, Italo Ramos, one of the stars of the tournament so far and hopefully for years to come for Honduras. The game began to change and momentum swung in Honduras’ favour, however, against the run of play, El Salvador equalized through midfielder Melendez, which sank the pro Honduras crowd back into their seats after watching their team concede their first goal of the tournament. The momentum El Salvador had, lasted all but 2 minutes before Honduras were back in business. Again, Ramos converted from a quick break to put Honduras back into the lead. The Honduras players worked hard to keep their team in front and when the final whistle came, they were reward with a berth in the final.

Bermuda and El Salvador met for third place medal Sunday and the Guatemala-Honduras finale took place, two hours later. Both games being shown at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex venue.

In the 3rd place match Bermuda squared off against El Salvador. Bermuda would get a second taste of some Central American football and perhaps they bite of a little more than they could handle. With both teams deadlocked after the 1st half. El Salvador quickly enforced their dominance and quick incision passing to break down a discipline Bermuda defense. With 2 goals coming in the second half of play. Henry Turicos got on the score sheet early in the second half of play in the 41st minute. Bermuda tried their best to fight their way back into the game as Bascome tried his best to push his troops forward for the equalizing goal, but it was not to be as El Salvador scored again through a clever finish by Kevin Martinez in the 65th minute. With 5 minutes remaining in the game, El Salvador proved too much for the Bermudians. It was the first match in which Bermuda didn’t score a goal. El Salvador would have rather been in the final against Guatemala, but they will be happy the way things turned out in the tournament and will be proud to be second runners up.

In the final climax of the tournament the top two teams Honduras and Guatemala faced off in very exciting match that some incredible football being displayed in first half of play as both sides  played possession football and took their time to build up each play. Somehow you couldn’t dream that 13, 14 years olds displayed this kind of understanding of the game. String passes and movements that most top professional athletes would be proud of. They were both very methodical in how they approach the game and you could see this was truly a final of an international tournament.

It didn’t take long Honduras to settle in. Winning a penalty in the fifth minute of play, Darixon Vuelto neatly put away his 6th goal of the tournament. Honduras fans almost made that atmosphere seem as if they were the home side as they roared they’re team on. 20 minutes later Guatemala had an answer for the Honduras fans, as Mario Rodas, who also scored the winning penalty in the Semi-Final match against Bermuda, scored, this time in real time for a great build up play in the 24th minute. Both teams played end to end football as each team looked to push for the goal that would bring them glory.

That goal was to be for Honduras as Man of the Match Darixon Vuelto got on the end of a cross in the 52nd minute to volley home Honduras’ second goal of the match. The Honduras fans were all on their feet now stomping and scream, “Honduras! Honduras! Honduras!” as they help carry their team towards the finish line. Honduras looked like they had another penalty, but the referee decided it was outside of the area. Guatemala managed to give Honduras one more late scare in the match when a low drive from the right side of the goal mouth was well saved by Wilmer Martinez. The final minutes were up and the Honduras fans cheered in rich jubilation as they watch for the first time their country lift the coveted Concacaf U-15 Championship.

The runners up Guatemala were visibly distraught after the final whistle, with some players with hands to head in tears. They had beaten themselves, with some sloppy defending to give away the game’s first goal and were always chasing the game. Great work and attitude must be given for both sets of players as each player pushed until the last whistle.

Individual awards were given to Bermuda for the Fair Play Award, which was collected by CaptainOmar Lewis. Golden Glove for the best goalkeepers was given to the safe pair of hands Wilmer Martinez, who only concede twice throughout the tournament. The Golden Ball Award was given to the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, Darixon Vuelto, who also received the Man of the Match award. The final award the Golden Boot Award, was awarded for the tournament’s Top Goal Scorer, Cayman’s Leighton Thomas Jr.

Medals were given next to the 3rd place team El Salvador and to 2nd place Guatemala, before 1st place medals and the U-15 Championship was awarded to Honduras. 

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Woman mugged on GT street

| 30/08/2013 | 37 Comments

(CNS): A male cyclist snatched a bag from a 47-year-old woman on Thursday night (29 August) as she walked along Boilers Road in George Town sometime between 8:30pm and 9:00pm. George Town officers are appealing for witnesses to the incident, in which they say the man rode up to his victim and suddenly snatched her bag before running off and leaving the bicycle behind. The suspect was around  5’3” in height with a light complexion. He was wearing a red sweater with a black hood and was last seen running off towards South Church Street and the direction of Hard Rock Café.

It is believed that he may have been in that area for some time before the incident.

Anyone who was in the area last night and witnessed the incident or the suspect before or after the bag snatch took place is asked to contact George Town police station on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477(TIPS).

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CS examining offenders recruitment policy

| 30/08/2013 | 22 Comments

(CNS): As government continues its battle to cut overheads and reduce numbers, it is currently examining a new policy on the employment of ex-offenders. Despite the need for staff cuts, the government is still one of the best placed organizations to give those convicted of crimes who have served their sentence a chance in an effort to prevent them from returning to a life of crime. It is less costly for the public purse to pay them to work than to keep them in jail, so while the police and government are calling on the private sector to take on ex-cons, government must also find room for those who need help.

The latest scant version of minutes from the deputy governor’s meeting with civil servant heads indicated that the policy was discussed on 12 August, when a few minor changes were recommended before the revised policy was circulated to all chief officers.

Efforts to help young people vulnerable to being sucked into a life crime was also at the top of the agenda for the meeting, when the new chair of the charity Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) and the education ministry’s at-risk coordinator gave a presentation about initiatives targeting troubled and vulnerable students. BBBS was looking for government support in an initiative to have civil servants act as mentors.

Mentoring is a key strategic objective within the country’s national crime reduction strategy and in line with Deputy Governor Franz Manderson’s goal for civil servants to play a greater role in community activities. As a result, chief officers have been asked to endorse the programme and support participation by their staff.

The minutes also revealed that the deputy governor and the chief officers have identified the need for an employee attitude survey among public sector workers to gather key information that could be used to motivate high performance, as part of the ongoing reform of the civil service. Chief officers discussed some preliminary work that has already been undertaken and a sub-committee was expected to meet the following week to collate feedback, consider information requested from POCS and make recommendations on the way forward.

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MLA to tackle TLEP jobs

| 30/08/2013 | 132 Comments

(CNS): An independent member of the country’s parliament has said that he is willing to gothrough the details of all of the Term Limit Exemption Permits (TLEP) issued by the immigration department to see if he can help match the jobs to Caymanians. Ezzard Miller has made a request to the immigration department for the categories of jobs held by the special permit holders in a bid to find out if unemployed locals could do any of the jobs before government changes the law to allow all of the holders the chance to stay and apply for residency.

The controversial decision by the government to allow around 1,500 workers, many in the tourism sector, the chance to stay when their permits expire in October has angered many and Miller says he is prepared to do what it takes to match the jobs to local people who need work.

Miller pointed out that both the PPM and the C4C had campaigned on a platform of jobs for Caymanians and had previously criticised the introduction of the TLEP by the UDP administration. He said that the new government had committed to an audit of those posts and if they wouldn't do it, he would.

In the first instance, Miller is preparing a meeting in his constituency of North Side and is asking everyone in his district who is looking for work to come along and go through the list — once he gets the necessary information from immigration — so he can see how accurate the assumptions are that the jobs are ones that locals don’t want or are not qualified for. The independent member said he will help North Siders contact the relevant employers and assist them with applications for the posts if they are willing and able to do the jobs.

“I will do whatever it takes to ensure that the law is enforced and wherever a job is held by a permit holder, if there is a local person ready, willing and able to do that job they will be given the post,” he said. “This is what government should have done before they announced that they would all be allowed to stay.”

Once he has dealt with the needs of his own constituents, Miller said he is volunteering his time and will sit in the Legislative Assembly when it is not in session and invite all unemployed Caymanians in need of work to come and look at the list and he will assist anyone who is in a position to do the work held by permit holders to apply for the jobs.

He said that despite the election promises, when it comes to employment of local people very little appears to have changed.

“It seems as the government still doesn’t have the ‘cahoonas’ to enforce the law,” he said, adding that the employers have successfully lobbied over the years for changes to immigration laws that never assist local workers.

Premier Alden McLaughlin recently stated that around 400 of the permit holders are domestics and many more are low paid posts. Speaking at the PPM National Council Meeting earlier this month, McLaughlin said sending the 1,500 or so TLEP holders home would not necessarily translate to jobs for Caymanians and the economy would suffer if 1,500 people were to all leave the island with their dependents on the same day.

However, Miller disagreed and said if the employers had been following the law, they should have had succession plans in place, and if they can’t find a Caymanian to hold the post currently held by a TLEP holder, as with any rollover situation in the past, the worker would have then been replaced with a new one.

Check back to CNS Monday for a closer look at the positions held by TLEP holders.

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Spa worker charged with indecent assault

| 30/08/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A Jamaican national who was working at the luxury spa facility at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman pleaded not guilty last week to one charge of indecent assault. Damion Henry, who is on bail but unable to work as he is a foreign national and has been dismissed from the spa, is scheduled to go on trial in December. He is accused of assaulting a customer at the five-star hotel’s facility in February but few details of the case, including Henry’s former position at the Silver Rain spa, were revealed in court, when he denied the allegation. 

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Turtle number increase cuts meat price

| 30/08/2013 | 26 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Turtle Farm is cutting the price of its meat as a result of a more productive breeding season and better management of the animals. With thousands of the endangered animals at the farm, what appears to be improvements in husbandry, diet and the overall health of the turtles has led to an increase in numbers, which the farm said has enabled them to reduce the normally hefty price tag. With over 8,000 turtles currently at the farm, the growth in numbers will also result in more of the farmed animals released into the wild, even though question remain as to whether the release programme is an appropriate method of conservation.

The reduction in price has been welcomed by the Department of Environment (DoE) as cheaper farmed meat is expected to reduce poaching pressure on the wild population. DoEDirector Gina Ebanks-Petrie said that any drop in meat prices would reduce incentives for illegal take, "so the DoE welcomes the planned reduction in the cost of turtle meat from the Farm.”

CTF Managing Director Tim Adam said the price decrease is the result of several factors, including increased egg and hatchling production at the farm.

“Over the last breeding season in 2012, the Cayman Turtle Farm greatly increased egg and hatchling production as a result of various actions including enhancements to the breeder diet, removal of unproductive breeders and changing the ratio of males to females in the breeding pond, as well as younger breeders becoming more mature and so better able to reproduce,” Adam said. “During the current 2013 breeding season now in progress, results so far indicate numbers similar to and even a bit ahead of last year’s numbers of egg production, which produced a bumper crop of hatchlings.”

Adam also said that lowering turtle meat prices helps in conservation efforts as cheaper legal farmed turtle meat means less incentive to poach turtles from the wild. “We strongly believe that a reduction in turtle meat prices will help to further reduce or eliminate poaching of wild turtles,” he said.

The CTF boss said that as many as 400 turtles could be released into the wild as a result of the increased hatchling production.

“We have completed work on additional quarantine tanks and our veterinarian, Dr Martha Keller, has implemented new pre-release quarantine protocols,” Adam explained. “The first turtles to be released under these new protocols are currently in the quarantine process, which runs for approximately three months. We anticipate that the Farm will be able to release up to 100 turtles at a time, so as many as 400 turtles could be released each year,” he added.

The new prices, which will come into effect from 1 September, are $19.00 per pound for turtle steak, $9.00 per pound for turtle stew meat, $7.00 per pound for menavelins, and $4.50 per pound for bone. All prices are in CI$ and each type of product is sold in five-pound lots. For turtle stew, for example, that is a 25% price drop.

However, the Cayman Turtle Farm remains the target of an international campaign to stop the breeding of the animals for meat and to re-invent the facility as a conservation centre.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals is still attempting to communicate with CTF management following its damning report, which exposed significant problems at the farm. The attention from the WSPA did lead to some improvements, including the recruitment of a full time vet and better conditions in the storage facilities.

However, concerns remain about the conditions and about releasing farm-reared turtles into the wild, regardless of the quarantine process.

In addition to the issues raised by the animal welfare charity, the farm continues to be a significant drain on public coffers, sucking in a subsidy of around $10 million per annum of public money to keep it open.

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7MB hotel bar robbed

| 30/08/2013 | 66 Comments

CNS): Less than 48 hours after a terrifying home invasion in Savannah at the hands of four masked gunmen, the police are on the hunt for two more suspects following an armed robbery at a West Bay Road hotel. Police were called to Treasure Island in the heart of Cayman’s tourism district along Seven Mile Beach after 11pm on Thursday night after two men entered the hotel lobby and robbed an employee of cash at gunpoint. The men were described as tall and dark in complexion; one was around 6ft 1inch and the second around 6ft 3inches. Both robbers wore blue jeans, blue hoody, black shoes, black gloves and blue masks. One was armed with a silver handgun with a wooden handle and the other a black handgun.

No shots were fired and no one was injured during the hold up and the gunmen ran towards the beach, heading towards West Bay direction.

Anyone who may have spotted these men or have any information of the robbery are asked to report it to any of the police stations or call 800-TIPS (8477) or call 949-7777.

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