Schoolwork always the top goal

Within a couple of days of their glorious showing in the World Cup qualifiers in Haiti, the Cayman Under-17 girls football team had to get serious again.

Cayman beat Bahamas 2-1 in the first game, then scorched British Virgin Islands 13-0 but were edged out by the hosts 1-0 in the final match in Port au Prince in front of 20,000 delirious Haitians.

It meant Cayman came second in the group and now have to play the Dominican Republic soon for a place in the next World Cup round. The girls were on Public Beach this week working out in a more relaxing environment.

Lead by captain Tacita Berry, head coach Bobby McLaren alongside technical director Thiago Cunha and the rest of the squad, they all believe the Dominicans will be overcome.

Parents and coaches alike are also pleased that the girls are showing remarkable standards in their academic work at school.

Physical fitness is a proven way of keeping mind as well as body in prime performing shape and the U-17s are a testament to that.

McLaren said: ‘Every day we’re getting good news about these girls. For example, Alyssa Chin now has a 4.05 GPA at the St Ignatius High School.

‘Players now who were never on the honour roll are now on it. Things seem to be going so well for them and I’m happy with their focus both in football and at school.

‘The biggest thing on their minds is that in their last game they didn’t win. They have come back and are working twice as hard and I’m very pleased for them.

‘I think anybody with an understanding of what it takes to perform at the international level should know that the same work ethic and character that it takes for you to succeed in this game is the same type of attitude that they are applying to their schoolwork. And all of them are doing well right now.

‘Kaela Ebanks is a straight A student, top of her class. Chelsea Greene had in her report all As and only one B… the list goes on. The parents have actually said that they’ve seen the transformation of the girls who want to succeed in school as well as on the field.

‘What is happening is that we are working with John Gray High School students where the vice-principal and the management of the national team are working in conjunction with these girls to develop them both in school and in football so that when the scholarship opportunities come they will be fully prepared on the field and with their academics.’

Chelsea Greene is the daughter of Sue who has done so much to introduce young girls to football. Sue runs a football programme for primary school girls every Saturday morning at the George Hicks playing field.

With a superb name like that you would expect Chelsea to support the great west London side but sadly her allegiance lies with Manchester United. (Maybe her middle names are Old Trafford).

Chelsea, 12, is a pupil at George Hicks and has been playing football for four years.

‘There weren’t really any bad parts to being in Haiti,’ she said. ‘I really enjoyed getting the experience and seeing how international games are played.’

Kaela Ebanks, also 12, plays for Women United and is a pupil at Pace.

She said: ‘I found it a very good experience and I enjoyed it a lot. The best part of going to Haiti was when we won our first game. When we scored it was so exciting and when we won it was so good, I can’t really explain it.

‘The worst part was when we lost, but we still had faith in God and we did good.

‘I think that we will do well against Dominican Republic and we will succeed because we are working really hard towards it.’