Last week a summer football camp attracted many big names within the sporting world.
Among them was local track and field hero Ronald Forbes. As many will remember he rose to prominence last summer at the 2008 Olympics. In Beijing he made the quarter-finals in the 100m hurdles.
The North Side native is here in Cayman for the summer taking a rest from the rigours of a professional career.
As previously noted on these pages, Forbes is not coming off the best of seasons suffering significant injuries and missing many international meets.
Forbes was at the Annex field last Thursday for the FC International summer football camp.
On the day Forbes served as one of the coaches and helped oversee the kids.
In addition he gave a brief speech to the kids about staying involved in sports.
Forbes, 24, says he got involved with the camp as a way to support the Cayman community.
‘I’m just doing this for the youth. I want to give back to the community and the youth are so vital to Cayman.
‘Speaking at summer camps is the least I can do to help. I just make sure when I go to these major camps that I preach to these kids they need to put education first.’
In fact Forbes is very big on kids maximising their education. As he states youth can’t grow up these days depending on sports to make a living.
‘In this world today you can’t bank your dreams on one sport. You have to have a plan B. To me everybody’s plan B needs to be education. That is why I’m encouraging all the kids I meet to further their education in some way.
‘The way I see it education opens the door to becoming a better person. If those kids do that then they can give back to other kids and we can start a positive cycle.’
Forbes has taken those sentiments to heart as he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Florida International University last May before competing in Beijing.
Like most young adults who have grown up in Cayman, Forbes is no stranger to summer camps. He took part in a variety of camps, both sports and non-sports related. Looking back he wished more notable Cayman sports figures like him could have come by to provide motivation.
‘When I got into track at 13 no one really came from the sports world to speak to me. Since I’m in a position of influence now, I want to give that opportunity to the kids and help keep them motivated.’
The FC International football camp was one of many Forbes has attended this summer. He has already spoken at an East End and Bodden Town football camp and at a non-sports related North Side youth camp.
Forbes is expected to leave the island by month’s end to resume training at his former school. Before leaving he hopes to squeeze in appearances at other camps like the North Side football camp.
Ultimately Forbes has a simple message for Cayman’s youth.
‘Keep reaching for the stars and don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.’