The Cayman Islands National Under-17 Girls Football team clipped Jamaica’s High School Girls champions Excelcior High, 1-0, at the Jamaican school’s playfield last Friday. The match was part of a training camp for the Caymanians who are preparing for World Cup qualifiers in Antigua next October.
The Cayman visitors wasted no time in going into the attack from the first sound of the whistle, taking two shots at goal in five minutes and shocking the hosts who saw them as underdogs.
In the 12th minute midfielder Shenel Gall picked up a ball in the middle and after beating two of Excelcior’s defenders released the ball to Shanice Monteith who wasted no time in dribbling through the space eluding the central defender and firing the ball pass goal keeper Shantalle Graham ending the first half 1-0.
The second half was much more interesting as the Excelcior team tried desperately to penetrate the Caymanians half but could not get very far as the defense line was like a wall with goalkeeper Emily Kelly having an outstanding game making four spectacular saves.
Jeffrey Webb, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said it was like a dream come true and confirms that hard work gives great rewards. Webb said that he was glad when he heard that the team had beaten a defending champion in Jamaica where the football programme is at a higher standard.
“Believe me, I was overwhelmed when I heard of the victory and I am sure it will motivate and encourage them to work even harder,” Webb said.
Team manager Bernie Bush said that he was proud of the girls and the fact that Webb had given him responsibility to develop this programme bringing it from scratch makes him even more proud.
“The oldest girl on this team is 15 years-old the Jamaicans are bigger in stature and three members of the team are national players,’ said Bush. ‘My team now has a benchmark to see what they are capable of achieving. I hope the Cayman Islands corporate community take this as an invitation to come on board with sponsorships to assist this team in going forward in their efforts to be top teams in the upcoming competition. They have the heart the talent and the discipline all they need is the support in cash or kind to complete the task. I am really satisfied.’
Meanwhile, The Cayman Islands women’s technical director, Thiago Cunha, was jubilant and expressed his joy in pointing out that the team was an average young team and the fact that the Excelcior team players were bigger and older was motivating for him.
“They were brave to have played so well against those big girls and won. I am confident that they will do well in the other games.
The trip to Jamaica was was made possible through the sponsorship of Digicel and the Caribbean Utility Company. Digicel outfitted the team in traveling and training gear and has also provided phones and communication services to the girls so they can stay in touch while they are away.
Digicel Cayman Head of Business Solutions John Byrne commented on the company’s support of the team: ‘Girls’ and women’s football in the Cayman Islands has grown tremendously in the past few years and now rivals men’s and boys’ football in both size and success. At Digicel we are very impressed by the hard work these young women put in to their sport and we are happy to support the team as they reach for even greater success.’
CIFA President Jeff Webb thanked Digicel for its support of the girls football programme, and also for the company’s ongoing support of football in the Cayman Islands and throughout the Caribbean.
Digicel sponsors the annual Digicel Cayman Cup tournament locally and is also the sponsor of the regional Digicel Caribbean Cup championships.
For more information on CIFA events and activities visit their website at www.caymanfootball.ky