Team spirit key to World Cup glory

The hopes of the whole of Cayman
rest on the inexperienced shoulders of the Under-17 girls when they go into
World Cup battle this week in the CONCACAF group stage.

The over-achieving footballers have
reached the final regional stages of the World Cup qualifiers and will play
their three biggest matches in their short careers in Costa Rica.

No other Cayman national football
side, male or female, has got as far as these girls have. The fact that their
average age is only 15 emphasises the enormity of what they’ve done.

It all started with the programme
devised by Bernie Bush three years ago under Technical Director Thiago Cunha
and Head Coach Bobby McLaren. They have brought the girls a long way in an
incredibly short time.

Cayman play the hosts in Group B on
Wednesday in San Jose at 8.30pm Cayman time, defending champs USA on Friday
(6pm) and Haiti on Sunday (noon).

 Group A includes Canada, Mexico, Jamaica and
Panama. Three of these eight teams will go through to the World Cup finals in
Trinidad and Tobago in August.

If Cayman reach the CONCACAF semi-finals
after the round robin games, they will play on 18 March and the finals are set
for two days later.

The girls were given a nice send
off on Thursday at the Casanova restaurant in George Town.

Minister of Sport, Mark Scotland,
an avid football fan, ensured he was there. Scotland said: “The whole country
is proud of these girls and I want to say on behalf of the Premier, myself and
the rest of my colleagues in the cabinet and other colleagues in the government,
how proud we are.

“I made a point of thanking the parents
who are here tonight because they’ve played a huge part with their dedication
in getting these girls this far.

“They are examples of what we want
parents to be in terms of raising their children and involving them in these
kind of programmes.

“We’re one of 37 countries and
we’re in the last eight, that’s a huge achievement for the smallest country in

“It’s not what happened in the last
couple of months, it’s what’s happened over the last few years. I’ve watched
this programme from conception and said we would be here one day.

“Okay, we’re not in the World Cup
finals and we’re not favourites to get there but we’ve taken a big step that
nobody’s done before and they’re going to continue making us proud no matter
what the results are.

“I encourage all the public to
follow their results. Radio Cayman will broadcast the games live and we’ll be
on the internet as well. Just support them, keep them in your prayers and
they’ll do well.”

Jeffrey Webb is President of the
Cayman Islands Football Association. He said: “Last week we had a Caribbean
Football Union meeting in Trinidad and there was a presentation made by the
development office.

“An example was used of the Cayman
girls and how well the team has done. They said that if out of 37 countries,
Cayman can qualify and be in the top eight, anyone is capable of doing the

Webb is proud of the fact that the
women’s league here only consists of six clubs, a tiny figure compared to the
likes of USA, Jamaica and Canada.

He added: “It’s a testament to the
clubs and coaches who have worked over the years with these players and
developed them.

“Yes, Costa Rica is going to be a
mountain for them, but they have heart, great team spirit and regardless of
what happens, this is our World Cup finals. The great thing about it is that
the team is so young that the future for them looks fantastic. So the investment
that we’re making bodes well for the future.

“We’ll definitely be the youngest
team there. We’ll probably be the smallest as well, but I’m sure we’ll have the
biggest heart.”


The Under-17 girls are primed for World Cup action.
Ron Shillingford