Coaching royalty visited the Cayman
Islands this week and although the asking fee was $150 for clinics around 100
boys and girls saw it as a worthwhile investment for their football development
to attend Roy Wilhelm’s sessions.
Youngsters from age six to 18
endured the burning sun at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex to learn from the
Dutch master who is a youth coach at the celebrated PSV Eindhoven club, one of
Holland’s biggest teams that has produced many great players.
Wilhelm was here for the first time
last year, loved it and returned with his team of teenage player/coaches for
another session with Cayman’s aspiring Messis and Rooneys. The Cayman Islands
Football Association and the government is pumping much of its resources into
youth football here and the benefits are already showing. A big proportion of
the national squad training for the Digicel Cup in October are Cayman-born
Holland’s success at the recent
World Cup, losing in the final to Spain 1-0, has raised the profile of Dutch
coaches again, so Wilhelm’s visit is even more significant. Holland may have
disgraced themselves with their thuggish behaviour in the final but there is no
doubting their classy, fluid style which has always been the signature of all
brilliant Dutch sides since the heyday of Johann Cruyff in the Seventies.
Wilhelm passed on tips to some of
the brightest locals, including Arvid Harris, Reno Jackson and Matthew Suberan.
“I’m not used to being in temperatures like this,” Wilhelm joked. “Maybe in
Miami on vacation, but not in my country. Thanks to Beverly Melbourne and
Alastair Kay (CIFA’s media workers) they have got all these kids here.
“The level of this group I’ve been
coaching is very impressive. I’ve seen four or five really good players. And
they should be the future of the Cayman Islands. It’s hard to say if any will
make it in the pro leagues. You need to compare them with European players in a
“If they are prepared to work hard
and try to focus on soccer, stay out of trouble, don’t drink and don’t go out
too much, they might make it. The kids are too nice. If you say to a Dutch kid,
let’s run a lap they will ask why. Here these kids just accept what you are
saying. To have a winning team you need to have at least two or three idiots in
the team. Cayman is nice. I get the feeling that Beverly and Mark Campbell
(CIFA rep) are part of my family.”
Wilhelm, 58, and his team are
staying in a town house in Red Bay. They’ve seen some of Cayman and hope to get
to Stingray City before leaving.
Of all the many talented kids that
Wilhelm has coached, Ruud van Nistelrooy stands out as the best. Van Nistelrooy
effectively started his career at PSV, moved on to Manchester United where he
scored for fun and then continued the success at Real Madrid before recently
moving to Hamburg.
Yet Wilhelm did not spot the free
scoring Dutchman as a future star when coaching him. “Van Nistelrooy was never
technically gifted. I absolutely did not see him making it at the highest
level. It must have been his attitude and dedication.”
Dylan Jonkers, 17, is one of
Wilhelm’s coaches. He plays in his Netherlands homeland at a lower club level
than PSV after being rejected as at the gigantic club. “Of course, being a pro
is what I want to be, but I’m assisting Roy now,” Jonkers said. “It’s nice to
come here. The adventure is nice and I like the players here. They take care of
us and we try to teach the kids something of the Dutch soccer style. The kids
here are maybe too nice, because if you want to be very good then you have to
be a little bit mean.”