New football season set to begin Saturday

The CIFA Foster’s National League, which will run for 15 weeks this season, February – May 2005, is good to go.

The first two teams to meet, Sunset and FC International are set for a 4:30 p.m. kick-off on Saturday February 26th at the T.E. McField ‘Annex’ Football Field on School House Road in George Town.

At a press conference, representatives from the Foster Group of Companies, Progressive Distributors, CIFA and the Minister of Sports sat down to express their excitement about and involvement in the impending football season.

‘It’s really good to see football starting back up again…it’s obviously a big part of life in Cayman,’ said Foster’s Food Fair General Manager Woody Foster. ‘Foster’s is really happy to be a part of football in Cayman and very proud to continue our sponsorship of the league. This will be a good opportunity to get people’s minds off all the challenges they are currently facing during the recovery process.’

Certainly no one, including CIFA President Jeffrey Webb, imagined that just five months following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan CIFA would be in a position to organize and operate the league. ‘We were thinking four months ago that we would perhaps not be able to play football until September 2005 but are very excited that this day has finally come for us… The football fields and stadiums took a battering but the Minister, Dr. Frank McField and his staff has assisted us tremendously in getting the fields back where we can have recreational football.’ He gave special thanks to sponsorship partners Foster Brothers and Gatorade for making the season, though shortened, a reality.

Frank McField, Minister of Sports was also present and added his thanks to the sponsors, CIFA, the coaches and all the other individuals who have contributed to football in the Islands. He found it especially encouraging that CIFA and all their members were continuing a partnership that started before Ivan. ‘It’s good to know that the partnership we have together developing football in the Cayman Islands could not be destroyed … we look forward to people coming out and supporting football not just as players but also as spectators and encouragers.’ He reiterated the fact that the league would be a welcomed distraction from all the tremendous issues, which are currently facing the country.

Also in attendance and elated that football was going to start again was Gatorade Brand Manager and Representative for Progressive Distributors Sam Burkhart. ‘ We just cannot believe how far you have both come in such a short time, ‘ he said, referring to CIFA and the Ministry. ‘Thank you so much for all your efforts, hard work and the opportunity to be part of the league.’

Thirteen teams divided into two zones will grace the fields between February and May. East End FC makes a long awaited comeback as East End United and has been zoned with FC International, George Town, Scholars, Sunset, Tigers FC and Her Majesty’s Prison Team – who are participating for the first time. Six teams make up Zone B and include Academy SC, Future, Latinos, North Side, Roma and Western Union.

Players have been anxious to get back on the field with some teams having started training as early as last November. Roger Borden, Team Manager for Scholars International has repeatedly told the CIFA Office that his team is just excited about the season and can’t wait to get back on the field. Thought the season this year is a shortened version of the normal eight-month long season it is clear that fans can look forward to and expect the usual enthusiasm and tense competition.

Due to the lack of proper lighting at most venues however, matches have been shortened and scheduled to end before sunset on each match day. Some are set to kick-off as early as 1:30 p.m. with 30-minute halves and 10-minute half time breaks. Venues will include the T.E. McField ‘Annex’ Football Field, the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, the Old Man Bay Playing Field in North Side and Ed Bush in West Bay.