The Cayman Islands National Women’s Football team is gearing up for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament as the island prepares to host the games scheduled to be played from the 24th October through to the 28th. The participating teams are Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Cayman Islands, forming Group “D”.
Jeffrey Webb President of the Cayman Island Football Association (CIFA) said that this tournament represents the first international qualifying tournament to be hosted on the island since the passing of hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Webb went on to say that he expects a positive response from the island as it braces for the launching of a full return of the Islands football activities internationally adding that it was the first game of this calibre to be played in an eastern district.
“I take this opportunity to recognize the players for the outstanding attitude, discipline and commitment shown over the past eight months in their preparations for this tournament.”
“It would be remiss of me not to thank the Minister of Sports Alden McLaughlin and his ministry for their financial support in hosting this qualifying group and also the Ministry of Education for their input in preparing the venue to meet international standards,” Webb commented.
Technical Director Thiago Cunha, who has held this post since 2003, is optimistic that his team will do well in the upcoming tournament.
According to Cunha, the squad of 22 players has been doing extensive preparations and trains on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays each week. Presently the team has a mixture of Under-17, Under-20 and six senior players training. This decision was made in an effort to boost the performance of the girls.
As part of the preparations, the team went to Jamaica in July of this year where they took part in a training camp and played friendly international games against three of the island’s top teams in Harbour View, Meadhaven and Excelsior.
This trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of Digicel, Caribbean Utility Company and the fundraising efforts lead by team manager Bernie Bush along with the players in collaboration with the Cayman Island Football Association in their bid to improve the playing ability and performance of the team.
This trip was worth the while as the team was exposed to playing against girls who were far more experienced in the game.
They did well, defeating Excelsior 1-0, but lost to Meadhaven and Harbour View 1-0 and 3-1, respectively.
“The players are very fit and ready for the tournament at this time. As part of the training, they played against the Cayman Islands National Under-17 men’s team. These games are played to help the women to move faster and be more aggressive in their approach to the games,” Cunha stated in a recent telephone interview.
“I understand that the Haitian team plays well and that the Puerto Rican team is an American based team, but the team is being prepared to face these teams with positive intentions,” Cunha added.
The squad will have the presence of midfielder and forward Shakeina Bush, who plays in the USA on a football scholarship. On October 19th she will join the rest of the squad namely Telicia Ebanks, Krishan Welcome, Brianna Hydes, Sophia Dilbert, Cassandra Bodden, Judy Rivers, Jannee Welcome, Shenel Gall, Patrice Myles, Avery-Ann Rankine, Brittany Schirn, Alyssa Chin, Ariela Smith, Kimberly Pitta, Sheynae Watson, Tacita Berry, Emily Kelly, Chelsea Bush Somali Hall Shanice Monteith and Jovani Hessing.
The coaching staff comprising of team Thiago Cunha technical director, manager Bernie Bush, Bobby McLaren Assistant Coach, Sharon Collins, Assistant Coach and Paul Hill Fitness coach and Amanda McField Equipment Manager who have been working around the clock alongside the girls, they have also received support from the Government, parents and the Football association.
Contact the CIFA office at 949-5775 or [email protected] for further details regarding the tournament.