Scholars serves the community

Scholars International Football
Club promised to give back to the sport’s local community as they always do and
they certainly did that with another series in the annual Scholars Classic. The
tournament kicked off two weeks ago at the Ed Bush Stadium between the Cayman National
side and a Jamaica Select. A Cayman Select Under-23 played Honduras Select the
following day and the teams continued playing each other until the final was
played on Sunday. 

Scholars organised this to help the
national side prepare for the trip to Puerto Rico to play in the Digicel
Caribbean Cup. The Digicel Cup games were supposed to start this week but were
postponed and will now be played from 6 October. The Under-23s are also
limbering up for their World Cup and Olympic qualifiers later in the year. 

The tournament was sponsored by
Scholars International, Construction Development Associates and Mario Watler
& Sons. All the matches were free entry except the final which was only a
dollar. There was no entry fee for the teams either.

The final at the TE McField Annex
on Sunday was a great example of entertaining football between Cayman Select
and Honduras. You knew you were in for a humdinger when Nimroy Forbes blasted
the ball from the kick-off directly into the net. It flew 50 yards with enough
power and accuracy to sail over keeper Miguel Pitta’s flailing arms. Forbes
added another for Honduras soon after before Paul Brown pulled one back for
Cayman just before the break.

James ‘Paddy’ Ebanks equalised
early in the second half and put Cayman ahead soon after. It looked like the
winner but up popped Hermene Gildo just before the whistle to equalise for
Honduras and take the game into extra time. It was a golden goal situation but
no one scored so it went to penalties which Honduras won 4-3. A superb match
and fitting finale to a wonderful tournament chiefly organised by Mario Watler,
Colin ‘Dougie’ Rowe and Nikolai Hill. The officials all volunteered their time
too, including ref Kenville Holder and his assistants Dwayne Ebanks and Swason
Owen. Peter Campbell of CDA and Noel Williams, vice-president of Scholars
International, presented the prizes. 

Antonio Smith, founder of Scholars
International, who has played, coached and administrated for the club in its
30-year history, said: “I just want to say thanks to everybody who came out and
supported this event. Scholars is always a team that is willing to do whatever
it takes to help the community and keep youngsters out of trouble and to help
them enjoy football. We love to do that.

“We don’t make any money out of
this. It’s just a free classic, we just charged a dollar at the gate for the
final. We didn’t charge the teams a penny to enter this tournament. Scholars
love football and that is what we’re all about.

“We did something like this to help
the national squad. I’m sorry they didn’t complete the rest of their games. At
least the Under-23s came in and took over. I still think it would have been
good for them to have completed their games considering they are preparing for
a tournament overseas.

“There was a big response to this
tournament. People were coming to me and asking me to extend it for another two
weeks. But it such a hard thing to, it takes so much time. We’ll see what we
can do next year but we’ll stop it at that. I thanks everybody for their
support. Scholars won the league last season and we can repeat it next season
and we’re going to look better next year.”