The U-12 Cayman Airways sponsored Cayman Islands Hurricanes football team recently returned from the two-day Kickit 3v3 Tournament in Tampa, Florida with a slight dent in their pride but a wealth of knowledge and experience. Although losing their three games, the team made up for their disappointment with great effort, determination and a never-say-die attitude. The Hurricanes, consisting of 12-year old Ricoh Brown, Fabio Gall, Logan Seymour and Kira Scott, 11-year-old Brandyn Murray, and 6-year old Elijah Seymour, were well-received by their American counterparts as the Islanders presented small Cayman Islands flags to their opponents before taking the field.
Day one was going to be tough for the young Island stormers and as fate would have it, they were scheduled to play the opening game of the tournament, the very first game of the day. First up was IP Futebol, a Brazilian coached group of youngsters based in West Palm Beach and two time U-12 3v3 National Champions, complete with Brazilian replica uniforms displaying household names such as Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano and Ronaldo. In keeping with their namesake’s tradition, IP Futebol moved the ball around the field with poise and grace. Being accustomed to larger fields, bigger goals and 10 teammates, the Hurricanes found it hard to get into their rhythm and the game. The Brazilians, as we called them, quickly reached the maximum 12 goals to win the game but not before the Hurricanes scored two of their own through Fabio Gall and Brandyn Murray.
Somewhat over-awed and shocked by what they had experienced, the Hurricanes fortunately had a few hours to reflect on their game and watch other teams play before their second match against the No Namers in the afternoon.
As the games continued in other age-groups and divisions, Coach Virgil Seymour and his group of assistants (parents to be more precise), wandered amongst the many fields gathering tactical information and strategies that would better prepare the players for their second game.
As the afternoon rolled around, the Hurricanes readied themselves for their second game of the tournament. The No Namers, as their name indicated, were the unknowns of the group but from the first few minutes the coaching staff realised they were a force to be reckoned with. Quickly taking the lead, the No Namers were relentless in their play. The Hurricanes were again overrun, sometimes displaying tactics learned from their first game and what they observed from other games, but it wasn’t enough. The Cayman team lost their composure and reverted back to what they were accustomed to allowing the No Namers to increase their lead, finishing up 11-1 visitors with Ricoh Brown scoring his teams’ consolation goal.
Dejected but undeterred, the young stormers returned to the hotel and replenished their strength with a little rest and recreation in the pool. After what they encountered during the day, their spirits had not been broken and from the noise emanating from the pool, their enthusiasm had not soured either.
The Cayman youngsters still stood a chance of advancing to the second round of the tournament if they could gain victory the following day. Their opponents, Strictly Soccer, had also tasted defeat at the hands of IP Futebol and No Namers albeit by smaller margins. Strictly Soccer was a local team, part of a larger football club operating and playing all over the Tampa area and definitely no pushovers.
Early to bed and even earlier to rise, the reinvigorated Hurricanes and the rest of the traveling party arrived at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex determined to gain a victory. With Coach Seymour’s inspirational words of wisdom and a better understanding of how 3v3 is played, the players took to the field against their equally desperate opponents. Glimpses of poise and discipline filtered into the Hurricanes play as they played their hearts out, eventually coming up short losing 7-0. A brave effort from the young Islanders but Strictly Soccer were simply too strong and disciplined. The Hurricanes were out of the tournament.
Although bitterly disappointed with the outcome, the Cayman contingent decided to stay and cheer on eventual champions, IP Futebol. Their style of play was such a joy to watch that it mesmerized spectators, something that the young stormers vowed to practice and perfect on their return home.
Returning to the hotel equipped with most of the knowledge and experience needed to survive the Kickit 3v3 tournament, the coaching staff, rewarded their heroes and heroine with an evening of fun at the go-kart track, but that’s another story.
The parents agreed that this was a very worthwhile trip for the youngsters. This was the first time any of the players had played overseas against a team of their peers. They performed admirably and did Cayman proud. The disappointing scores never reflected the heart, determination, attitude and resolve exhibited by the Hurricanes during their three games. It was a wonderful trip enjoyed by parent and child alike, definitely worth revisiting every year. The well-organised tournament is a showcase of young American talent and a truly valuable learning tool for Cayman’s talented youngsters. The team thanked sponsors Cayman Airways and Fabri Zone as well as all who purchased tickets in the Hurricanes fundraising raffle.
‘We’ll be back!,’ say the parents and players.