Three young Caymanian footballers have exploded onto the field in Brazil with their outstanding ball skills as they go through a three-week training stint with one of the country’s greatest clubs, C. R. Vasco da Gama.
David Bodden Jr., Tevon Levine and Dave McLaughlin have completed two weeks of their visit, which is part of an exchange programme between the club and the Cayman Islands Football Association, and are creating such a stir that Vasco officials are thinking of an extended stay or a return trip by at least one of them.
David Bodden Jr. leads the scoring with seven goals in three games. And Cayman junior team coach, Brazilian born Thiago Cunha who is with the youngsters, said Vasco’s Coach Rene, a former 15-year professional, asked whether the Under-14 player can stay on or re-visit.
Additionally Mr Cunha reported that Dave McLaughlin continued to put on an excellent performance in the defence, and club officials described a goal scored by Tevon Levine outside the 18-yard box as a ‘golazo’ – translated from Brazilian to mean something beautiful and amazing.
The exchange programme with the 106 years old club kicked off earlier this year with arrival in the Cayman Islands of 18-year-old Diego Brandao, who plays defence in CIFA competitions for East End.
CIFA President Jeffrey Webb, who initiated the exchange programme, said that this type of connection with Vasco for exchange of young players further puts Cayman football in position to improve. ‘It shows the Association’s focus on development of young people. The performance of our three players now in Brazil speaks volumes of the way our youth development is going.’
Tevon plays in the Under-17 local competition, and David and Dave are in the Under-14 leagues in Cayman. After going through training and their exercise paces the three Caymanians along with other club players are split into two teams, pitting new players against older ones. Coach Cuhna explained that competition is keen because selection for the club team depends on performance of the players in these matches.
In their time off the Caymanians get more football exposure through opportunities to attend national games. They recently saw a match between Vasco and Corinthians. Vasco lost 2-3, but among the outstanding players the youngsters saw on the field was former World Cup player Romario, who scored a goal. They also played friendly beach football games with former Brazilian national players and former professionals.