Florida coaches so impressed

As Cayman’s football programme at
the grass roots continues to develop, more and more coaches from the US are
coming down to monitor their programmes with a view to giving scholarships.

Last month Bodden Town keeper Ramon
Sealy gained a part-scholarship at the University of West Florida. That should
turn into a full scholarship in the fall if he impresses the coaches and
maintains his academic grades

Aware of the burgeoning pool of
football talent here and in Cayman Brac, two University of West Florida coaches
came over the weekend to assess the candidates.

Bill Elliott is head soccer coach
there and with Joe Bartlinski they attended games at the TE McField Stadium.

“I have been impressed with a few
players I’ve seen but I have to see what that means because we have to get the
best pairing in terms of academics and talent. It’s been very interesting,”
said Elliott.

“In Brac we’ll be working with
school kids trying to develop some of the talent and expose them to the game.

“Ramon is settling in well and
adapting. We train a little differently. We do more physical training in terms
of running and weight lifting. We also have a technical trainer dedicated to the
goalkeeper.

“So I think he’s getting a lot of
types of exposure to training that he didn’t have on a regular basis here. I
haven’t had too much of a chance to assess him yet.

“Many years ago as a college player
I played against Lee Ramoon (the celebrated George Town player/coach) and he
was what inspired me to come to Cayman and find some more talent like that.

“Definitely, there seems to be some
talent in Cayman, we just have to see their academic records and if there is a
good match for us.”

Bartlinski is head football coach
of the women’s programme at the University of West Florida.

He said: “We’ve had many CONCACAF
players come through our programme. Currently, we have a Canadian international
player, as well as Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaican and the Costa Rican team
captain.

“We’re just trying to expand our
sphere of recruiting and coming here is a logical step to view the progress of
the Under-17 girls and how successful they have been.

“We’ve just had two of our players
who originated in Jamaica drafted into the women’s pro soccer league in the
United States.

“Our programme has done very well,
winning matches against the likes of Albany University 4-1 and University of
Alabama 4-0. A lot of that success is because of the CONCACAF and Caribbean
players.

“Every time I recruit a Jamaican or
Trinidadian, more universities go down there. Costa Rica have just beaten
Canada in the Under-20s so more coaches are going to go down there. Now that
they hear that coach Bartlinski is in Cayman they’re going to come down here
too.

“We’re trying to stay one step
ahead of the curve. And the great success of the women’s programmes down here
this is the natural next step.

“Finding the right mix academically
is huge. In the past with the Jamaicans and Trinidadians we’ve had to place
them in other universities or junior colleges in the States and wait for them
to come back after two years.

“Now that we’re finding out
Cayman’s education system is fantastic and more of these players have a better
idea.

“Once they come out of high school
they need to get into the NCAA clearing house and get their SAT scores and core
classes sent there. Then the NCAA will determine their eligibility. So they
have to have good grades in maths, English and sciences and a good SAT score.”

Has Bartlinski seen any women worthy
of a scholarship? “Unfortunately, NCAA rules prohibit us from saying anyone
specifically but obviously there are certain players that are well known down
here that have a chance.

“There are a group of Under-17s and
18s who are going to play in a tournament in Orlando soon and I’m going to
monitor those youngsters.”