Another compelling chapter recently opened in the annals of the Academy George Town Youth Development Programme with three youngsters getting unique scholarships.
Brandyn Murray, 15, Logan Seymour, 17, and Rhon Royer, 18, will be furthering their education in the United States because of their academic achievements and athletic prowess.
Players with the Academy Sports Club’s Under-17 and Senior Men’s Division One football teams, Murray and Seymour were awarded scholarships from Darlington School in Rome, Georgia and will begin classes later this month.
At the same time they will begin training with the Darlington School Soccer Academy.
Royer is a goalkeeping standout for Academy SC’s Senior Men’s Division 1 team. He was awarded a scholarship to attend Harding University, a NCAA Division II institution, in Searcy, Arkansas, and will also begin studies later this month.
Founded in 1905, Darlington School has grown to become one of the leading co-educational, college preparatory, day and boarding schools in the south-eastern United States.
Its mission is to accept all student athletes with a love for the game, while at the same time offering an elite training programme geared at preparing players for the college game.
Training is year round with a highly qualified staff, which includes participating in many of the top ranked tournaments in the country and abroad.
Over the years, the school’s soccer academy has competed in top events such as the Disney Showcase, Dallas Showcase and the NCAA Final Four Showcase, as well as participating in international tournaments in Holland, Italy and Germany.
During the 2008/2009 CIFA season, Murray represented Academy SC at the Under-17 and Senior Men’s Division 1 League levels and represented St. Ignatius Catholic High School in the Under-15 league.
Finishing as the fourth top-scorer in Division 1 with six goals, the speedy, skilful forward has ambitions to play professionally but fully understands that his education is first and foremost.
Anticipating challenging and exciting times in the classroom and on the field during his tenure at Darlington School, Murray said: ‘I am very pleased to have received this opportunity to attend high school in the United States and look forward to doing my best academically and athletically at Darlington.
‘I encourage other young players to seriously consider training and playing in the Academy George Town Youth Development Programme because it is through these programmes that doors are opened.
‘I sincerely thank coach Winston Chung Fah, the coaching staff and the players at Academy SC for believing in my abilities and allowing me the opportunity to further my education while playing the game I love.’
Logan, a recent St. Ignatius Catholic High School graduate, also represented Academy SC at the Under-17 and Senior Men’s Division 1 League levels during the 2008/2009 CIFA season, and in the past has represented St. Ignatius at the Under-19 level.
The versatile, goal-scoring midfielder is looking forward to attending Darlington School and is deeply appreciative for the opportunity to further his education, prepare him for college and at the same time improve his football skills.
‘I am very grateful for this opportunity,’ Logan said. ‘International exposure is critical to my dreams of professional football and this is the next step towards that dream.
‘During my visit to the school in May I was impressed with the facilities available to the football team and also the diversity of the student body.
‘I will be going to school with kids from over 30 countries and am hoping to learn a lot from the experience.
‘I am very grateful to coach Chung and all his efforts. He keeps me focused on football, discipline and school. He has helped me become more confident in myself.
‘I am also extremely grateful to my dad, Virgil Seymour; who has been my coach since I could kick a ball and has worked very hard to prepare me for this opportunity. I am determined to make the most of it.’
Royer recently completed Sixth Form at St. Ignatius Catholic High School and has been playing for Academy SC for the past four years. As Academy’s main keeper for the past few years, he is very excited about this opportunity to further his education in the US while playing the game he loves.
‘It has been a great experience playing with Academy SC over the years,’ he said. ‘I have learnt a lot on and off the field and have honed my goalkeeping skills and technique under the watchful eyes of coach Chung, and for that I am very grateful. I am eager to begin studies at Harding.
‘It has been a great experience playing with Academy SC over the years. I’ve learnt a lot on and off the field and have honed my goalkeeping skills and technique under the watchful eyes of coach Chung, and for that I am very grateful. I am eager to begin studies at Harding and fully understand that it will be a challenging venture but one that will prepare me properly for the working world, the career path I have chosen and life itself.’
Since its inception in 2001, the Academy SC Youth Development Programme has been instrumental in acquiring financial aid and football scholarships for ten local youngsters to several prestigious educational institutions at the prep (high) school and university levels in the United States.
In 2008, Academy Sports Club and George Town Sports Club united to form the Academy George Town Youth Development Programme.
The philosophy of this programme speaks to the principle of providing football coaching in tandem with an educational regime. The game plan focuses on a fusion of football and education as the way forward.
The discipline and dedication acquired from this flourishing programme will serve the Academy youngsters well throughout their school years and into their chosen careers, and hopefully, for some, a chance at continuing their boyhood dreams of playing professionally.
Seeing three of his young protégées preparing for their tenure in the United States, Technical Director for Academy SC, Chung, has seen it all before.
It still brings the well-known figure a great sense of satisfaction and pride when youngsters such as Brandyn, Logan and Rhon through commitment and dedication, earn the opportunity to educate themselves within the college prep school and university system.
The list of young Caymanians who have come through the Academy George Town Youth Development Programme and been given the opportunity to attend school in the United States because of their football talents, now numbers 15 and it is certainly not going to end there.
The programme is especially thankful to the Academy SC coaching staff and to Rex Ebanks, owner of King’s Sports Centre, for the use of his facilities during Murray’s and Seymour’s training preparations.