Defence relied on for total success

Since inception, women’s flag football in the Cayman Islands has been characterized by offence. However defence is slated to be the major factor in an upcoming competition overseas.

A Cayman select team is taking part in the US Flag and Touch League national flag football championships 14-16 January. Kissimmee, Florida will host the competition, which is in its 40th year and features hundreds of teams from the States and the Caribbean.

Doss Solomon is the head coach of the side, organised by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association. The director of the Cayman Islands National Museum has been involved, both as a participant and as a flag football association member, for a number of years. Solomon, 44, states the Cayman team has an up-tempo style predicated on defence.

“It is a quick game and we’ll be fast-paced; the defence will keep us winning,” Solomon said. “Keeping the other team’s offence off of the field is the key. We know we can score points, we have the personnel to do it.

“The way we’ve been in our training there are no superstars on our team. Everyone plays a vital role. If everyone stays in their role no one will have to step up and shoulder all of the load.”

Cayman will be represented by 20 of the top female players from the national women’s league (which has been ongoing the last two years). The final roster features: Ali Amos, Tricia Bell, Christine Bisnauth, Cassandra Bodden, Tamika Byrd, Scimone Campbell, Lila Conolly, Sophia Dilbert, Courtisha Ebanks, Schwanna Hera, Kathy Miller, Bobeth O’Garro, Shinette Rhoden, Gillian Roffey, Alexandria Saintvil, Satania Smith, Camille Solomon, Keisha Solomon (nee Terry), Jahzenia Thomas and Renee Thompson. Most are used to taking snaps on both sides of the ball and making plays.

That flexibility inspires confidence in the wider flag football community. Among those who are on upbeat about the ladies is long-time player and five-time national champion with West Bay’s Hellcats team Phil Brown. A constant spectator for the side’s practice matches at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex and the Ed Bush Field since last October, Brown had heaps of praise for the ladies.

“They can win it all,” Brown said. “They have the most talent I’ve ever seen the association assemble for a men’s or women’s team. It’s incredible they’re on the field (in practice) at any one time. I’m very proud of the talent I’ve seen and the commitment that the ladies have shown.

“It’s a total team effort and that has been preached to them. If one person goes down, everyone falls. Our defence can stop anyone from scoring. The defence is great and can shut it down. If the offence can get a few scores we’ll be OK. The team reminds me of the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football League. They have a little of everything.”

Some of the sport’s greatest minds are on the sidelines for the women’s team with Nikolai Hill, James ‘Cadillac’ Collins and Darrell ‘50’ Porter serving as assistant coaches and Jamal Young (the current association president) on board as team manager.

In addition to the technical support, the squad is getting financial backing from roughly 20 local business entities. Solomon states the trip would not happen without those sponsors.

“I’d like to thank all of the team sponsors for their support. They are: 2XU, Cayman Airways, Water Authority Cayman, Island Heritage, Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands, Myles and Thorpe, Randyke Villas, Dr. Foley’s office, Cayman National Bank, Krys and Associates, Island Air, Dr. Deosaran’s office, Edie’s Decor, Maples and Calder, Caymania Duty Free, Chiro-Spa, Crossfit Seven Mile, the Department of Sports and Maedac Supply Co. Ltd.”

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Byrd is one of the players on the team.
PHOTO: MATTHEW YATES
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