West Bay is blessed with some of Cayman’s finest sports people; Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker, Frecko Ebanks and his Hellcats crew, Nayon ‘Donie’ Anglin and a host of others.
Another one that doesn’t readily come to mind but should is Roy ‘Huta’ Ebanks, technical director of Future Sporting Club and West Bay Community football instructor. An affable, loyal man by nature, he deserves all the accolades out there.
In the Compass yesterday we ran an interview with the venerable coach who can boast that five of Future SC’s eight football teams won league titles last season.
So what makes him tick? He’s been around a long time but not much is known about him.
‘I was born here in the great district of West Bay and raised here,’ he says. ‘I played pick-up football and then joined the Lions club in the early Seventies. I also played cricket and represented West Bay.
‘I worked in construction and after a while I had a roofing company and after that I went to America to live in the early Nineties in New Jersey. My wife was from there. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1996 from cancer. I decided to stay in America and went back to school because I hadn’t finished school.
‘My father died when I was a very young boy and I had to go to work. I was the third child of four. I went to adult school in New Jersey and got a high school GED (equivalent of GCSEs) and then I went to college and got my associate degree in physical education. I always aspired to go back to school and went back at 46. Sometimes I felt strange, me being nearly 50 in a classroom full of 19 and 20-year-olds. But it was a phenomenal experience and I would love to do it again.’
Armed with all his qualifications, Ebanks returned to Cayman in 2000 ‘because I felt my community here was a rapidly changing place and the young people, especially in my community was faced with a tremendous amount of social problems and felt I could make a contribution in their lives through football and sports in general’.
He’s certainly done that. A men’s basketball team was started a year ago and a boys Under-19 basketball team will be competing for the first time soon. His celebrated after-school programme ensures kids maintain their studies without compromise.
‘I wanted to continue to study but also I had a niece and nephew that I was helping raise that time, that’s another reason why I came back.’
Full of social responsibility, anyone would think Ebanks had a huge brood to draw experience from. In fact, he has only just become a father for the first time in his 56 years.
‘He was born on 23 July this year. What was I doing all this time? I’m not a normal Caribbean man! Let’s put it this way, God has a plan for all of us and I think I’ve already raised many children here because I’ve been coaching in this community for 36 years. My first team that I coached was in 1971 (aged 21). The head of planning, Kenneth Ebanks, he was one of my players, as was the financial secretary of Cayman Islands, Ken Jefferson, the head of the immigration department, Franz Manderson, him too. Now I’m coaching his son.
‘My son’s name is Nahshon. I’ve even named my email after him. It’s a Hebrew name which means ‘he that calms the stormy seas’. So I tell people that I stir them up and he calms them down. My faith is Rastafarian and I decided my son should have a profound meaning. When he comes up I will describe his meaning to him. I feel that it’s important.’
How long has he been a Rasta? ‘I can’t answer that because I was born this way it just took me a matter of time to realise it and manifest itself. It was always here in my heart.’
Ebanks feels returning from the comfort zone of New Jersey was the best thing he did. ‘When I came back here I found kids in many bad things, drugs and involved in anti-social behaviour and a lot of juvenile delinquents. And I know through sports and especially the game of football I was able to help a lot of those kids. And then I got employed by the government as the football instructor for West Bay.’
He’s progressed well since returning. ‘Last year I was selected to take the U-20 national team to Dominica Republic first then after that they asked me to stay on and take the senior national team to Cuba to play in the Caribbean Football Union qualifying Gold Cup championships and I was also asked to stay on this year to coach the U-23s but unfortunately this was time my child was going to be born. I told them I thought it was better to bring in somebody from the Caribbean who is familiar with our way of life, our culture and everything. That way we would have more success at the present stage.
‘They brought in Carl Brown from Jamaica who had tremendous international exposure compared to us Caymanian coaches. But let me put it this way, I was at the highest level in New Jersey also. I worked for a soccer academy there for five years and coached college Division One players and ex-professional players in the summer leagues there. I also went to many different coaching seminars too.’