Cayman star endorses beach football

His face is arguably the most recognizable in Cayman football circles. And Lee Ramoon, who was honored last January by FIFA with a Certificate of Merit, is always passionate about his sport.

However, today it’s the beach version of football, and Lee is looking forward to showing his considerable skills in East End come 22 January 2006 at the Admiral GOL Beach Football Tournament, an added attraction in 2006 to the Digicel East End Surf Challenge jet-ski extravaganza.

‘Oh yes, I’m getting together a veteran team,’ said the affable Ramoon, who has been involved in the game for more than 20 years and was presented with his award by former FIFA Player of the Year George Weah of Liberia. ‘But no predictions for now. We will show up and see how things progress.’

Beach football will be an exhibition sport at the next Olympics in Beijing, China and is growing in popularity. However, Lee notes that this version of the game has actually been played for some time locally.

‘During National Team training we often played on the beach and it represents another variation is the game which is very fast and exciting. There is also the natural attraction of the beach with its fun-filled atmosphere, and besides, if things get too hot, you can always take a dip in the sea,’ he laughs.

Beach football departs from the more traditional game in a number of ways. Apart from the location, there are five players per side with unlimited substitution and forget about that traditional gear. It’s beachwear, football fans. There are three 12-minute periods with five-minute breaks.

The Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) has given its blessing to the 22 January 2006 event (during Heroes Weekend) and has suspended its fixtures for the weekend to allow its players to participate in the beach tournament.

‘This ought to be a real enjoyable event,’ says Ramoon. It’s a time when the entire community can come together and enjoy the game. It’s also a way to encourage more youngsters to join in, and hopefully this will increase both the fan and player base in the regular game.’

Ramoon, whose exploits include leading the local league in scoring several years and gaining All-American honours while attending King College in Tennessee, expects great support for the tournament and feels its could be the impetus for a football starter programme.

‘Taking everything into consideration, this promises to be a highlight for the football season. I encourage everyone to turn out for the weekend. Remember it’s East End and nobody does it better. Why should the football be any different?’