East Enders kick on now

Generally speaking East End is a quiet community with a great historical contribution to these islands.

Thus it only is fitting that the district was the site of another piece of history in Cayman.

Last Saturday saw the start of the East End U13 five-a-side football league.

The league is the first of its kind historically and also the first of a plethora of sports league aimed at each district in Grand Cayman and eventually the Cayman Islands.

On the day some 80 people turned up to the Donovan Rankine play field in the district.

Most of that number was kids but a handful of parents and onlookers came out to see what the hoopla was about.

For about two hours children between the ages of six and 13 took part in recreational five-a-side football matches.

Surprisingly a lot of children in the U18 category came out to partake in the activities. The understanding from league officials was that most of the teens were eager to get in on the football action.

For the most part the kids had a good time. Many overlooked the scores and had fun kicking the ball around and running the length of the field.

About the only negative was the armada of mosquitoes that swarmed the pitch at dusk. Hopefully many cans of bug spray can be on hand for spectators.

Supervising the kids were a host of figures in and around the Cayman sports scene.

Among the notables were Deputy Director of Sports Collin Anglin, who encouraged the kids to stay active, and Alan Ebanks (a former sports journalist) who was on hand providing some lively commentary.

Meanwhile East End coach Thiago Cunha organized some of the games and gave the youngsters pointers relating to improving their level of football.

Through it all the youngsters were graded by a host of volunteers in the community who served as league officials.

Among them was volunteer coordinator and East End native Vernie Watler-Harris.

The mother of U23 football prodigy Arvid Harris, the elder Harris had much to say on her duty.

‘Essentially it was a rally to assess the kids. We used a simple 5-1 ranking for the kids where five represented a high level of talent and one represented a novice level of talent.

‘I’m quite pleased to see the parents attend because their presence gives the kids an extra push.’

The grading aspect was incorporated to ensure the youngsters are evenly split, talent-wise, into a number of teams for the league.

A number of figures in the Cayman community were also present including East End community officer Delmira Bodden and the Director of the Department of Sports Dalton Watler.

Bodden, who devotes her days to working with the East End youth, thought the start of the league was monumental for the district.

‘The league presents a very positive and safe environment for our kids. There are endless benefits for a healthy child in a sport that offers discipline and structure.’

For Watler the league’s beginning also marks the start in the change of lifestyles in the community.

‘It’s all about the development of our social capital and enhancing our people. We want the community to come together, change how they communicate and be cohesive.

‘We want to establish a type of leisure behaviour where people do something positive like sports that can be useful for life instead of going to the bar.’

Bodden went on to talk at length about the effect a large-scale effort like the league can have on the people in East End.

‘This league can have a very positive impact by introducing a sport like football that instils discipline in the youth.

‘I also think football can teach our youth teamwork, togetherness and unity. From there the same sentiments can be passed on to their parents.

‘It takes us as locals to make a difference with our young people. We see them everyday, interact with them all the time and we’re the ones they will listen to.

‘This is a positive beginning for good things to come. I thank Collin Anglin, Mrs. Vernie (Watler-Harris), the East End Youth Committee and the Department of Sports for making this happen.’

Every Saturday from tomorrow onwards will see league games in East End.

The league is slated to conclude on November 8.

For Watler, whether it is football or another discipline, sports can be the way forward for Cayman.

‘It can be running, track, whatever. The idea is to have sports create healthy change in our communities.

‘From a personal perspective what I saw on Saturday was the kids were happy, some parents were there to support and the volunteers were very engaged.

‘It was great seeing a lot of kids as we want to get as many as possible involved. By people doing positive and healthy activities like football we can work on getting Cayman more active and help improve the health of these islands.’