Local Under 14s footballers sparkle in Vegas

| 27/02/2014

(CIYFP): The Under 14 team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme returned to Grand Cayman last week after competing in the 2014 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase in Las Vegas,  Nevada.  The team returned with a more than respectable record of three wins and one loss, missing out on advancing to the quarter finals in their age group by a single point. This was the second year in a row that the team competed in the popular youth football tournament in Nevada.

The 20 boys, five staff members – including three coaches Ernie “Gillie” Seymour, Antwan Seymour and Ken Downey, team manager Norman Joseph and team doctor Dr. Verley Campbell – and a number of parents, departed Grand Cayman on Wednesday, February 12 brimming with pride and high hopes that come with representing one’s Programme and the country.

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 International  Tournament, 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.

At the tournament, the Caymanian youngsters defeated Cook Inlet Velocity from Alaska 3-1, the Colorado Rapids Burgundy from Colorado 2-0 and Tucson TSA 00 Red fromArizona1-0, and lost to eventual group winners Michigan Jaguars Green from Michigan 0-1. In contrast during the 2013 tournament, the team only managed one victory and three defeats.

Our young men were true ambassadors for the Cayman Islands as they represented their country superbly on and off the field in Las Vegas. The team’s exploits even caught the attention of one of the many sports journalists from local Las Vegas newspapers who cover the tournament on an annual basis. This particular sports writer compiled an entertaining article about the team and the Cayman Islands and included a photo of Kareem Foster celebrating a goal against the Cook Inlet Velocity team from Alaska.

The trip to Las Vegas was financed through corporate sponsorship and fundraising efforts by the Programme’s players, parents and coaches.  Coordinator of the Cayman Islands Youth Programme Neil Murray said, “The tournament was a great learning experience for our boys. In comparison to 2013, the results this year spoke volumes about how far the Programme has come and how the players have improved in a relatively short space of time.

"Special thanks to the coaches who continue to work tirelessly in preparing this group of players for not only this tournament but for what’s ahead. Special thanks to all the parents and the many sponsors who made this trip a reality and to those who supported the Programme’s fundraising efforts. This group of youngsters is special and they will do great things in the future," he added.

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