A local football coach wants to qualm debate over the current makeup of the national team.
Coach Ernie ‘Gillie’ Seymour recently presented a copy of a CONCACAF letter to the Caymanian Compass. In it, the FIFA’s guidelines and criteria regarding national team selection are outlined.
The letter, dated September 2007, states a player can play for a country ‘because he has citizenship and a passport which is accepted in more than one country in the region.’
The letter goes on to say:
‘In addition to having the relevant nationality, a player must fulfil one of the following conditions: a) the player is born in the territory, b) the biological mother or father was born in the territory, c) the grandmother or grandfather was born in the territory or d) the player has lived in the territory for at least two years without interruption.’
Seymour says he’s coming forward with this information in the hopes people will not use the makeup of the national team as a crutch.
‘A lot of our athletes have parents from other countries. Our ancestors are not turtles, alligators or crocodiles, they came from somewhere else.
‘There are so much players playing for other countries. This has been happening for many years now. For example Eusebio of Portgual came from Mozambique, Alfredo Di Stefano of Spain came from Argentina, and Marcos Senna of Spain came from Brazil. And what about Alberto Brailovsky who played for three countries: Argentina, Uruguay and Israel?’
Much discussion and controversy has surrounded the local football programme. Most of the talk has centred on Cayman’s disappointing loss to Bermuda in the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers.
Some have said that national coach Carl Brown should step down while others say the national team is made up of mostly foreigners.
One of the more outspoken members of the local football scene is Future SC Coach Roy Huta. Huta has publicly stated he is displeased with the apparent lack of Cayman-born players on the national team.
‘I’m not happy. If I…watch my national team playing and I see at the end of the game only a couple of born-Caymanians representing the Cayman Islands, then a man who has been involved in the game for 35 years and been developing players until they become adults is bound to feel upset.’
He also said he was worried about the message the current team would send to youngsters coming up who want a spot on the squad.
Huta made his comments in a story written and published by the Caymanian Compass in early April.
Another name that has given his two cents on the topic is Neil Murray. Murray is a former national team player and is actively involved in primary school football. Murray made the following comments in a story he wrote and submitted to the Compass in mid-April.
‘A lot has also been said of the lack…of ‘local boys’ on this current national team. I have a very big problem with players who are quickly provided with the necessary documentation to make them eligible to play for the Cayman Islands because of their abilities, especially when it means the omission of our younger, talented, but yes, inexperienced players.
‘I firmly believe that our senior national team should consist of players who have come through the local system… Only then can you produce quality players who have a feel for what it means to represent their country and the valuable experience it brings.’
Meanwhile Seymour has his own take on the situation.
‘I support some of the views of the previous writers about who should be given a chance to play for Cayman. I would like to let people know that a lot of born Caymanians are always invited to trials for the national team. Most don’t like to work hard because they were born in the microwave age so they want everything to be easy.
‘They drop out of the selection period long before the final selection is made and I can prove that. They complain about training being too hard. Some feel they should just show up to make the team because someone said they should be on the team.’
Seymour went on to say many current players are overly-influenced by former players.
‘Some don’t show up at all because of all the negative things that are being said by the critics, who don’t contribute anything to the national program.
‘Among those critics are some past national players who give nothing back to the game and also people who only talk what they hear others say and don’t know the facts.
‘It is an honour to play for one’s country whether winning or losing. To stand behind your flag means more than anything else. That patriotism has to be taught from home and in our schools.
‘Let us put the past behind us, we can’t change that. Let us move forward because football is a big business that has to be dynamic to succeed.’
At the end of the day, Seymour feels Cayman has to understand where its place is in the region.
‘Our expectations are too high. There are big teams in our zone. Some of the teams ahead of us are the US, Canada, Central America, Mexico and the top Caribbean sides. How are we going to compete with them?
‘It’ll take people in this country as a whole to make up their minds to give everything they can for Cayman to get cross the first round of qualifiers.’