The Cayman Islands will soon boast a football academy that will be the envy of the Caribbean.
Not even football powerhouses like Jamaica, Trinidad and Cuba will have anything as good as Cayman’s football centre.
It will take some years and around $10 million but when it’s completed, Cayman’s standing in the Caribbean football fraternity will rise considerably.
And to emphasise how serious Cayman football is, Brazilian legend Romario will be visiting Cayman in two weeks’ time and Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, will also be here in November.
Cayman Islands Football Association broke ground to officially launch its Centre of Excellence at Poindexter Road next to the Prospect Primary School in Prospect last Thursday.
This project falls under the Goal Project of FIFA whose representative Harold Taylor Development Officer-Caribbean Football Union. Also attending were Alden McLaughlin Minister of Education and Sports and government representatives Tommy Ebanks and Joel Francis
This Centre of Excellence will be constructed on 17 acres of land, housing an administrative building for the property, dormitories designed to house 40 people on two floors, a modern state of the art gym, medical and changing rooms complemented by three FIFA approved football fields, plus a special field and park to add to the ambience and utility of the property.
First up will be the administrative building. It will cover 4,000 square feet and include several departments necessary for the development of football on a greater international scale in the Cayman Islands and the region to a greater extent.
The Centre will provide not only a modern administrative home for the Football Association, but state-of-the-art training facilities for the national and local teams to develop their skills.
Jeffrey Webb, CIFA president hopes the centre will become a flagship programme for small island nations to emulate, and gain the recognition as the centre of football excellence in the Caribbean.
The complex is expected to also be a major attraction for the expansion of the lucrative sports tourism industry, with clubs from America and the Caribbean already having expressed an interest in using the facilities once it is completed.
‘The recent World Cup qualifier between Cayman and Bermuda was the largest public event in Cayman’s history,’ said Webb.
‘We’re optimistic that with this project in place the level of involvement and pride will be sustained to make the nation feel proud of our teams as they lift themselves higher in competitive football across the region.’
Webb added: ‘This is tremendous for us. This is a vision that we inherited from past generations that wanted to have Cayman football have its own home.
‘We wanted to have our football to have its headquarters and for our administration to be run out of the back of a car trunk.
‘It gives us, of course, facilities to develop Club Cayman where our national teams can be well groomed and developed from a technical aspect and under technical skills and watchful eyes.
‘We have a huge announcement to make soon where a partner from a big European country will come and assist Cayman with our coaching.’
Romario and Blatter visiting is endorsement that Cayman is making an world impression.
‘We have access to the world of football,’ added Webb. ‘This is a project that this generation has taken on and we want to complete it. FIFA is behind us 100 per cent.
‘Personalities like Romario coming in is only going to help us raise the profile of the centre and also to raise necessary funds.
‘The funding for the office building is now secured for the office building and it will be completed within six months. That will cost US$454,000. We also will be working on the first field.
‘We had a meeting last week in Sydney, Australia with the Goal Bureau. The chairman has verbally committed to Goal Project 2 and we will commence that in November during Mr Blatter’s visit here.’