Bankers credit in league of its own

As many know football never stops in Cayman.

The youth leagues are just getting under way, the national adult leagues are in full swing and fields all over Cayman are home to football excitement.

In a similar way interesting aspects of the 2009 Corporate Football League don’t seem to stop coming to light either.

This year’s league, which concluded weeks ago, saw a number of interesting characters. One of them is Alvin Aaron, Head of Corporate Banking at First Caribbean International Bank.

Aaron doubled as the president of this year’s league, which was won by Cayman National Bank. CNB would beat out seven other corporate squads and finish undefeated.

The team had a wealth of local football talents like Abijah Rivers, Oliver Parker (who had a team-high five goals) and Justin Pierre (who served as captain) and a loyal following of fans who took to waving a CNB banner at times.

As Aaron states the team embodied the alluring aspects of the league.

‘This year’s league was a resounding success. We were able to work with the Department of Sports to use the Annex playing field which is centrally located and ideal for us due to its proximity to the participating businesses.

‘Cayman National Bank deservedly won the 2009 league championship as they played the best quality football among the teams. The high level of team work and camaraderie was also very noticeable in the team.’

Aaron, who has been in Cayman some 18 years, has been involved with the league since 1991. In those days he was a trainee for Barclays Bank PLC.

Interestingly enough he states the league was going on well before that.

‘The forerunner to the corporate league started in about 1983 when Cayman National Bank, Barclays Bank and Scotiabank played games among the three banks.

‘Each year thereafter other banks joined and in 1986 a formal league called the Bankers League was formed. This league catered only to banks. In 1993, a decision was taken to broaden the league to reflect a financial services league wherein insurance companies, accounting firms, law firms and mutual funds companies could participate.

‘The league’s name was changed to Cayman Islands Corporate Football League. New rules were created which made provision for inviting guest teams like CUC Ltd, Dart and Cable and Wireless to participate.’

Considering the fluctuating bottom lines companies have and the quick changing global economy it is a remarkable feat that form of football has maintained such a great level of private sector support.

Such an eye-opener is not lost on Aaron either.

‘The level of corporate support over the years has been tremendous,’ Aaron said. ‘So much so that in one year we were forced to restrict the number of teams participating as the number was too large.

‘That year we even ran the league in two zones and the top two performers in each zone played against each other to determine the league champion and runners up.’

An interesting aspect of this year’s league was the heavy involvement of top-class local officials. Among them was Alfredo Whittaker who served as referee for a few games.

Helping to attract such notable officials were corporate league committee members Anthony Logan, Paul Lumsden, Elvis Coward, Alan Purvis, Micton Bedasse and Dean Evans.

Many of them have been involved in the league’s organisation from inception year in and year out.

As Aaron said, the added professionalism from guys like Whittaker is a welcome part of the league.

‘Having qualified referees led by internationally recognised referee Alfredo Whittaker officiating games this year speaks highly to the quality of the league.

‘Thanks to their presence the league remains a necessary way of providing an ideal arena for employees in the financial services sector to build camaraderie and interact with each other in a friendly and informal atmosphere.

‘The committee congratulates CNB for winning the trophy and expresses heartfelt thanks to all the participating teams and their supporters, Alfredo Whittaker and his team of referees and the businesses which continuously support their teams year after year.’