Local U14 footballers heading to Vegas tournament

| 04/02/2014

(CIYFP): The Under 14 team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme will be returning to Las Vegas this month to participate in the 2014 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase. The team will be competing in the Under 14 division with first round games scheduled for Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16. The quarter finals are also scheduled for Sunday, February 16 and the semi finals are set for Monday, February 17. The final is scheduled for Tuesday, February 18.

The 20 boys, five staff members – including three coaches, a manager and team doctor – and a number of parents, will depart Grand Cayman on Wednesday, February 12 and return the following week.

This will be the second time that the local boys will be competing in the tournament in Nevada. In February 2013, the team travelled to Las Vegas under the tutelage of Head Coach Ernie “Gillie’ Seymour and Assistant Coaches Antwan Seymour and Gonzalo McLaughlin. This year, the team returns with Head Coach Ernie Seymour and Assistant Coaches Antwan Seymour and Ken Downey.

The Mayor’s Cup International Showcase is one of two annual football (soccer) tournaments co-hosted by the Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club and the City of Las Vegas, the other being the InternationalTournament, which is played in October. Each year, the tournament welcomes amateur and professional clubs from Canada, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Poland, France, Australia, Dominican Republic, Denmark and Africa.
The Under 14s from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme (formerly known as the PFL Youth Football Programme) have been together since March 2011, training once per week and playing in as many friendly games and competitions with local and foreign teams in preparation for tournaments such as the Mayor’s Cup.

The Cayman Islands Youth Programme consists of 40 of the best players in the Under 14 age group from all clubs in the Cayman Islands and although recently ignored by the Cayman Islands Football Association as the next Cayman Islands National Under 15 Team, this has not affected the goals and ambitions of the Programme.

The ultimate goal of the Programme over the next few years is to prepare players to represent the Cayman Islands at the Under 15, Under 17, Under 20 and Under 23 levels as members of the Cayman Islands National Teams.

In addition, and more importantly, teams from the Programme will continue to participate in overseas tournaments in the United States and other countries to gain exposure for players in the hope that they will be seen by high school and college coaches and potentially earn scholarships to further their education and play at a higher level.

Also, we will expose our players to professional youth academies in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. We anticipate that other young Caymanians may follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Martinez, Kray Foster and Nathan Borde, who now attend the Youth Academy at Swindon Football Club (FC) in the United Kingdom, and Cameron Gray at the Youth Academy at Reading Football Club.

One of the Programme’s most recognized player is 14-year old Kray Foster, who now plays with the Youth Academy at Swindon Town FC. Kray was recruited by the professional academy following a training session while he was with the Cayman Islands Youth Programme in February 2012 during the first visit of Swindon Town FCs youth team. Kray also competed with the Cayman Islands National Under 15 team during last summer’s CONCACAF Under 15 Championships in Grand Cayman. At his young age, Kray remains an ambassador for the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme.

The trip to Las Vegas has been financed through corporate sponsorship and fundraising efforts by theProgramme’s players, parents and coaches.

“Our players and coaches are looking forward to returning to Las Vegas to gauge how we have improved in a year, “said Coordinator of the Cayman Islands Youth Programme Neil Murray. “During last year’s tournament, our boys were true ambassadors for the Cayman Islands as they represented their country superbly on and off the field. Although the team was disappointed with the results from the games, they played admirably throughout the tournament gaining the respect of many of their opponents, coaches, spectators and tournament officials. Our group is a year older, a year more experienced and ready for the challenge,” he added.

On their return from Las Vegas, the Programme’s squad will be playing two exhibition games prior to the featured games of the 2014 C3 Cayman International Youth Football Tournament involving the Cayman Select team and the Youth Academy teams from Swindon Town FC and the Houston Dynamo from Major League Soccer (MLS) on Thursday, February 20 and Saturday, February 22.

Special thanks to all the corporate sponsors including Cayman National, Entech Ltd., Business Solutions Technologies Group, Grasspiece Promotions, Water Authority Cayman, Flowers Bottled Water, Cayman Airways, The Sports Injury Centre, Webster’s Tours, Rawlinson & Hunter Limited, Cayman Immigration Consultant Services, Financial Integrated Services Ltd., Kensington Management Group Ltd., Foster’s Food Fair, A.L. Thompson’s Home Depot, Hurley’s Supermarket, Cost-U-Less, Economy Printers, CUC and Squadra Uniforms, and to the public who supported the Programme’s fundraising efforts.

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