Cayman club partners with West Ham

As
the football world enjoys the World Cup in South Africa, Future Sports Club
joins English Premiership team West Ham United.

Future
Sports Club has announced its partnership with West Ham United Football Club
and its International Academy, the first such partnership in the Caribbean.
Under the agreement, Future is the official West Ham United Academy partner
club in the Cayman Islands and the first in the Caribbean.

Roy
“Huta” Ebanks, technical director of Future states: “This is a great opportunity
for Future Sports Club and Cayman football to be associated with a prestigious
club such as West Ham United. This club is known for its rich history of
developing players who have been and are playing at the highest level of
football, both for the club and country. This newly formed relationship, over
time, will only enhance our goals and that is to become a much more
professionally run organization, at the administrative, players and coaches
level alike, which over time we can also produce players that will be capable
of playing at the highest level.”

Future’s
Vice Chairman Mike Barnett who began the negotiations earlier this year with
West Ham United International Academy states: “Becoming a Partner with an
English Premiership Club such as West Ham will provide tremendous benefits for
our Club. The finalisation of this historical affiliation leaves the Club
feeling very positive going forward with our objectives.”

Founded
in 1998, Future has always been dedicated to the development of young players
and this will certainly serve to greatly enhance the means for holistic
development of youth within the community. In Future’s brief history their
achievements include the recognition by the Cayman Islands Football Association
as Football Club of the year in 2002, six Women’s/Girls championships, seven
Boys Championships and several finalists and 15 Player of the year Awards.

Future
continues to maintain teams in all age divisions in both male and female
categories. Future also holds the distinction of having produced the Country’s
first female to receive a soccer scholarship to a US University and the Cayman
Islands’ only male player to be offered a top flight professional contract in
Europe. One of our Club’s U13 boys was accepted in a academy in Portugal along
with several players attending US Universities on scholarship. Another of their
youth protégés Michael Johnson is currently playing semi-professional football
with Rocket City United in the NPSL in Alabama, USA.

As
a requirement of the partnership’s initiation, Olsen Bush, Future’s Women and
Girls coach, attended a week-long West Ham United coaching philosophy clinic at
the West Ham United Academy in London funded by the International Academy’s
partner XL Travel. While at West Ham, he was provided the opportunity to
observe the methods of Paul Heffer, the academy’s assistant director, along
with other members of the Academy’s coaching staff including the director Tony
Carr, to acquire an understanding of West Ham United’s development philosophy.
This will be the first of continued visits to familiarise the coaching staff of
Future with the methodology employed at West Ham United Academy. 

The
partnership with West Ham United will provide Future the opportunity to follow
and adapt a structure proven successful for youth development even at the
highest levels of football. Over the years this has been evidenced by the many
elite players that have emerged from their Academy including: Frank Lampard
Jr., Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, John Terry, Glen Johnson and
Jermaine Defoe who are on the England World Cup squad.

As
a partner, Future will also host annual West Ham Player ID camps. These camps
will be done along with partner sponsors Umbro and XL Travel with the objective
of identifying players that could have a chance to play at the highest level,
the English Premier League. Throughout the upcoming months Future will be setting
a date for its inaugural camp where the most talented players identified will
be invited to train with the West Ham United Academy coaches. The best players
may then be selected to attend the West Ham United Academy in London for a
10-day evaluation. Another significant benefit for Future will be the
opportunity to participate in regular educational training at West Ham Academy
under the academy’s coaches to ensure the standard of training within the club
remains abreast of current methods employed at West Ham.

The
English media has said as recently as September 2004 that the biggest single
contributor to the current England national squad is not Manchester United,
Chelsea (who won this year’s Premiership), Arsenal or Liverpool but the West
Ham Youth Academy.

On
the business side of things, the club has been praised for its business smarts
and the financial viability of the youth academy business model. The transfer
of Anton Ferdinand from West Ham United to Sunderland proved to be a remarkable
milestone. With the reported $16 million transfer fee paid for Ferdinand, West
Ham United received over $100 million in transfer fees for players produced
through the club’s youth academy over the last ten years.

This
figure is based solely on the big name transfers of high profile players
currently playing in the Premier League namely, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole of
Chelsea, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United, Jermain Defoe
of Tottenham, Glen Johnson of Liverpool and now Anton Ferdinand to Sunderland.
There are many more former academy players playing professional football around
the English leagues.

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Bush (front row, fourth from right) took a West Ham course recently.
Photo: Submitted

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