Ariel Tatum constitutes another example of how far sports can take you. He is currently in his fourth and final year at Wheaton College, Illinois, majoring in Economics. Ariel received an academic scholarship from Wheaton College in addition to a government scholarship. At Wheaton College, he is a midfielder for the football team and since moving into that position, during the course of the season, he has helped anchor a defense that has only allowed just over a goal per game. Ariel is a clear example of perseverance and dedication, having played for the U14 National Team, U17 and U20 World Cups, Olympic Qualifiers and now being a member of the Cayman Islands National Team, all of which are part of CIFA’s International Programme.
Ariel has played for Academy SC for the past seven years and plans to return to Cayman once he graduates. ‘I’d have it no other way. I want to give back and help pave a better way for the younger and upcoming generations. I’ll proudly represent the Cayman Islands for as long as my body permits’. When asked about the state of men’s football in the Island at the moment, he replied ‘There is no lack of potential – there has ever been. However, there is a lack of commitment from players and organization from clubs that continues to hamper the growth of our players and it isn’t conducive to accelerated progress, which is necessary if we desire to become serious competitors as a country on the national stage and within the market where individual players are concerned’.
Ariel did not have many problems adapting to his new surroundings. ‘It would be fair to say that I have adapted fairly well. It calls for a greater commitment and a greater degree of discipline due to the competitiveness within the squad. I have answered that call and been able to make a huge impact enabling my College to achieve a lot of success. I have assumed a leadership role and become a mainstay during my four-year stint here’. His Head Coach, Mr. Matt Cushing, agrees with that statement, ‘The transition for Ariel was easy. He did part of his preparatory school in USA and this made it easier for him to adapt to Wheaton. Soccer wise, he fit right into the game; he has a big physical presence, which has proved a dominating force in the field. Ariel is very dangerous when taking free kicks from a distance and that is something that we try to take advantage of. He is also accurate and on target and I was very proud when he became an all-conference player on his senior year’.