As the FA Cup Final approaches, the teams facing this test are already looking forward to next season and the many challenges it will pose.
Elite Sports Club is one of the youngest clubs affiliated to CIFA. Formed in January 2006, under the presidency of Martha Godet, they are currently one of the biggest, with seven teams entered for competitions. As Gregory Ebanks, Head Coach, expresses ‘We have girls U-15, U-17, and a women’s team and we are preparing for the U-19 girls league which CIFA intends to introduce, boy’s U-13, U-19, U-23 and a men’s team’. But having so many teams sometimes comes with a price and Mr. Ebanks is aware of that. ‘One of the most challenging things for Elite is to facilitate so many teams; we have no financial backing, neither coaches to assist us with the various teams’, he added. ‘CIFA needs additional funding to render to the national programs/teams and their efforts towards organizing the programs. The teams also needs those resources to attract players in order to continue to play the national sport; when we look at our neighbours in Haiti, they are obviously gaining financial aid so they can travel to Central America and perhaps other places, and they are achieving excellent results compared to Cayman. We have to look and examine our future development for these islands. We need these resources to attract our young ones to be able to expose them to give them the necessary experience to see the qualities and opportunities of life’, he stated.
One of Elite’s main concerns is the development of youth, as Coach Ebanks explains ‘Our primary objective is to engage in entertaining the youth of the Cayman Islands through this wonderful sport of football. Through this we can supplement young players to excel towards the National programs and also by furthering their education, or perhaps having them aspire to become professionals.
‘The structure of Elite is to build character, development and a good foundation, with discipline that one can admire. Elite SC wants to attract fans from all walks of life by playing entertaining football that can be enjoyed and admired, and we can achieve this through our youth. Also our fans are a key factor; when you show quality football and discipline, this builds a good relationship. This is the image Elite aims to portray. Elite Sports club comprises of players ranging from every district, we welcome them with open arms, and we see the need to accept players from various schools’.
For Latinos FC is also a matter of continuing developing their young players, as their President Miguel Brown explains: ‘Our long-term plans include creating at least 2 youth teams and to represent Cayman in the CONCACAF Competitions. This has been one of our biggest dreams’. But finding sponsorship also has posed a problem for the Club, ‘It has been very hard to find sponsors to help us cover the team’s expenses; this is the biggest challenge we have encountered so far’.
However, their fan base makes up for that problem. Latinos FC has one of the most committed and enthusiastic fan bases in the entire Island and this is a fact that has not escaped Mr. Brown’s attention. ‘I can say that we are the team with the biggest fan base in Cayman Islands and for that reason we always try to give them the best we can as a team and all the players as individuals. We draw energy from our fans and we want them to feel proud of us’, he said.
Latinos FC also are considerate of the players from the opposing team. ‘We try our best not to injure any of the players from the opposite team. That is something very important to us. We understand the physical and financial price that goes with an injury and that is why we emphasize the importance of trying to play not to injure. In all of our history some of our players have been hurt and some of them have sustained even broken bones, but never has a player from the other team has left the field wounded when playing against us and that is something we take pride on’, Mr Brown concluded.
Mr. Ebanks finished his statement with an appeal to everybody involved with youth. ‘Lead them in the right direction, share positive things with them and have them to build a relation with God. If it’s one child’s life you have saved, it is a great accomplishment’, he concluded.
For more information on CIFA events and activities visit our website at www.caymanfootball.ky