It’s been another fantastic season of flag football and with the women forming for the first time this year, the sport is growing astronomically.
Much of that popularity is down to George ‘Teddy’ Hydes, president of the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association.
Hydes has seen flag grow from a bunch of guys who formed unstructured teams in 2001 and who crack the beers well before the end of the game, to a properly organised male and female league now where players and officials take the game incredibly seriously – without losing the fun element.
Hydes was a player initially then became the West Bay Hellcats coach. They have been pretty much the dominant team since inception.
But this season they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Caybrew Farm Soldiers who on Saturday beat the Dog House Bulldogs 20-13 in the championship game at the Dart Field. The game was well marshalled by refs Arthur ‘The New Slim Shady’ Screaton and Andreas ‘Zulu’ Kettner with Dan Hiryok and Shawn Pitterson on the sidelines.
So mixed emotions for Hydes who is pleased that flag football is growing immeasurably but tinged with disappointment at his own side’s relatively poor season because they were beaten in the regular season three times.
Considering before their first loss to Caybrew a couple of months ago they hadn’t tasted defeat since 2006, this was a bitter blow. Nevertheless, Hydes is happy to see flag thrive here.
‘Every year the talent is getting better and better and the competition is getting better because of the talent,’ he said at the Dog House on Saturday night where the end of season awards were given.
‘The women did an unbelievable job of coming in on their first year and their great play.’
The Lady Pirates caused an upset too, beating the highly fancied Walkers Wonders 19-14. Walkers were undefeated in 12 games whereas the Lady Pirates had lost three times previously, but Pirates captain Christine Bisnauth exacted revenge and can now boast winning the inaugural trophy.
As for the Hellcats, they must regroup this winter and step up their game otherwise losing to Caybrew, Dog House and the Hammerheads Pirates may become a regular occurrence.
Hydes admits they must strengthen the side and also regain focus. ‘It’s always a tough task to get up and going after you’ve won a championship and I think that’s what happened to us this year.
‘We didn’t have the motivation and maybe thought we could turn on that switch when we needed to but when we turned it on it didn’t work.
‘We definitely need to bring in some younger players because we’re getting a lot older. But at least we still have Perry Levy who is an unbelievable team-mate and player.’
Levy was voted offensive player of the year at the awards.
At least Hydes is comforted by the fact that flag is expanding rapidly. ‘We think flag football is going to continue growing at a face pace and feel it is already the best league on the island. It’s a sport that everyone can play. People of different ages, everyone can enjoy.
‘Next season the women’s league will be stronger. When we started the men’s league we only had about 50 guys.
‘That was good because it was a men’s sport. When the women started they had about 70 or 80 to start so we can only see it growing from here on.
‘We also have a sub-committee trying to form something for the kids. We tried something in the summer but the timing was wrong. We intend to do something for early next year with a short league for the kids to get them interested.’