The Zulu Warriors flag footballers are really going strong considering they are a newly formed team.
Unbeaten so far this season in seven matches, they are putting a smile on the face of the league’s main sponsor, Andreas ‘Zulu’ Kettner who is the sole Red Bull supplier on the island.
Kettner is also a ref in the flag football games played every Saturday at the Ed Bush stadium in West Bay.
The Warriors may be new to this year’s women’s league however some played in last year’s league. Ali Amos, Christine Bisnauth, Cindy Blekaitis, Dionne Whittaker, Eleanor Berry and Michelle McTaggart all turned out for the Hammerheads Lady Pirates who ended up winning last year’s championship. Ironically, with only one year’s experience and a championship, these players are viewed and relied upon as veteran players.
Warriors coach Rex Whittaker feels the understanding they built up last season is one reason for their good run so far.
‘I would have to say team chemistry and having a group of talented players with great attitudes which in turn makes the team very coachable is why they’re doing so well,’ he said.
The Zulu Warriors squad is the largest in the women’s league with 21 players registered and more than half of the team are made up of rookies. The coaches count on the veterans to take up leadership roles which has worked out very well so far.
‘Our focus is not on individual stats or accomplishments but the betterment of the team as a whole,’ said Whittaker whose wife, Dionne, is a star on the team.
‘As a result we have a well rounded team of gifted athletes who provide a significant amount of depth.
‘As far as we are concerned, all the teams in this year’s women’s league are very good. That’s why we take no one for granted and approach every game with the same focus, preparation and intensity. It’s clear that at any given time, any team can win.
‘I’m not at all surprised by its popularity and our expectations are that it will continue to grow very rapidly. The word is getting out and more and more players are looking at opportunities to get on teams.
‘It’s evident that we have a lot of naturally gifted athletes who are competitive and living in the Cayman Islands. Women who are looking for a real challenge tend to be drawn to flag football which is a great sport that combines athleticism with technicality.’
The flag fraternity is generally happy with the switch from Camana Bay to the Ed Bush field in West Bay this term.
‘Without a doubt the Ed Bush field is a great facility and we are truly grateful to be working with the Cayman Islands Government and the Sports Department,’ said Whittaker.
‘We would however like to see more games held at the different districts to provide more exposure to the public to see what flag football is all about.’
To raise the profile of flag, the association is planning to host its first international competition, the Caribbean Regional Championships here in November and so far they are in talks with teams from the US, Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Jamaica, Bermuda and St. Thomas.
‘This will provide significant exposure to the Cayman Islands and we welcome anyone who wishes to be a part of this inaugural event.
‘We are also considering a variety of options for both the women’s and men’s national teams to attend various international events as official representatives of the Cayman Islands.’
Whittaker is reticent to single out players for praise. He sees it as an overall team performance.
‘It is safe to say that all the veteran players I’ve already mentioned performed very well last year having a winning season and pulling off a victory in the championship.
‘This year the team as a whole has performed very well and with each passing week we have witnessed different players step up to the plate and performed.
‘We believe that this ability to execute from a variety of players gives us a significant advantage of not being reliant on any one player.
‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsor and the biggest supporter, Andreas Kettner of Zulu Distributors. We couldn’t do it without you!’
- Anyone wanting to follow the team should go on Facebook and search Zulu Nation.