One of Cayman’s biggest football tournaments for the year kicked off this week.
A contingent of three teams arrived in Cayman on Monday for Group C of the Digicel Caribbean Championships.
The squads hail from Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda and St. Martin.
On Tuesday the squads made the rounds in Cayman going from a media press conference in the morning and then an official Governor’s reception in the evening.
At the conference it was revealed by Technical Director Carl Brown that Cayman did not have much information on Antigua or St. Martin.
Brown said the squad is prepared for whatever tactics it brings to the pitch.
‘We know a little…and we’re expecting a lot of surprises. Our players will relish the opposition.
‘It’s going to be tough but all we can do is work out our game plan when the game starts.’
At the same time members of the Antigua contingent noted their unfamiliarity with Cayman and the rest of the field.
Rowan Benjamin, the national coach for the Antigua side, said Antigua will look to use the competition as a learning experience.
‘We haven’t played the teams recently. Our last match was against Bermuda three years ago.
‘We haven’t seen the teams play, though we know they’ve have played well.’
At least the Antiguans and company can go back home boasting of Cayman’s hospitality.
The Governor’s reception saw the Minister of Youth and Sports Alden McLaughlin, Cayman Islands Football Association President Jeff Webb, Digicel Head of Marketing Casandra Harris and Governor Stuart Jack all pay tribute to the teams.
All gave eloquent speeches on the tournament’s bearing on Cayman football and eventually took time to mingle with the players.
Also in attendance were members of the national team. Newly appointed team captain Dion Brandon was with members of the squad as they spoke with dignitaries.
The competition, being held at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, takes place until Sunday, weather permitting.
The game schedule for the competition is as follows:
Friday – 5.30pm, Bermuda v St. Martin; 7.30pm Cayman v Antigua and Barbuda
Sunday – 5.30pm St. Martin v Antigua and Barbuda; 7.30pm Cayman v Bermuda.
Tickets are on sale for $10 at Captain’s Bakery, the Digicel Galleria store, Funky Tangs, Money Centre and all Western Union locations.
Up for grabs is a first place trophy and cash prize. According to Digicel, the tournament offers a prize pool valued at over US $270,000.
According to Atanda La Forest, marketing executive for Digicel, the tournament is about boosting the level of football in Cayman and the region.
‘The championships create the forum through which clubs and associations seek new talents for contractual relationships; local players get the opportunities to showcase their abilities to these head-hunters.’
With the impending tropical storm, much doubt has been raised as to the status of the tournament.
Though Wednesday’s games were unaffected, Friday’s and Sunday’s games could possibly be cancelled or postponed.
CIFA is reportedly looking into alternative venues on Cayman such as the Ed Bush Playing Field in West Bay.
Ultimately officials, like Mr. Brown, are thinking positive and keeping their minds on the games.
‘No player relishes playing in adverse conditions as it can take a toll on a player’s physical condition,’ Brown said.
‘All we can do is watch the weather and adjust accordingly. The final say on playing conditions will go to the officials. If they say the surface is playable then things shouldn’t get out of hand.’
As the Compass had already gone to press Wednesday afternoon, a report on last night’s games could not be included in this article.
Be sure to check this week’s and next week’s Compass for all the write-ups on this event.