Flag football in the Cayman Islands is catching up to the standards seen abroad. Though Cayman did not excel in the latest international tournament, the vibes around the trip are quite positive.
A Cayman select team took part in the US Flag and Touch League national flag football championships last month. The Cayman team was one of hundreds of sides from the States. Cayman played three matches and won only its first match 34-6 (the other scores were (18-12 and 24-0). Kissimmee, Florida was the site of the competition, which was in its 40th year.
Doss Solomon, 44, was the head coach of the side. He states the results were an eye-opener for the ladies.
“The higher we got in the competition, the tougher it got,” Solomon said. “The teams we faced were all from the different states in the US. We were an 11th seed and we played the sixth, third and second seed teams. Overall we placed ninth out of 12 teams (in our group). It was good and positives can be found in the end. It was eye-opener for the girls I feel. It wasn’t it should be. The level of play they were up against was crazy.”
Cayman was 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 featured: 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.
Solomon only highlighted one of them as exceptional.
“We went as a team. We won and lost as a team. But I would say Cassandra Bodden played really well. The girls on a whole were able to watch the more elite teams. They saw that those girls live and breathe football up there and it shows. I want the girls to benefit from the training (leading up to this tournament) and use it in the league to make the women’s league better.”
Helping the director of the Cayman Islands National Museum lead the side were assistant coaches James “Cadillac” Collins and Nikolai Hill with Jamal Young as team manager. Solomon, who has been involved in flag football for a number of years as a participant, states the help of the coaches made an impact.
“Defence wins games. Defence definitely had an impact on how things went on the field. We held the team scoreless in the second half of the second game. What Cadillac and Nikolai did was prep the girls to play aggressively. We didn’t fold in our games, we didn’t give up and I told the girls I was proud of them.
“On the whole they play at a different level in the States. The rules we play by at home is different than when we go away. Luckily the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association is making steps to change that so that we play more by international standards. For example in Cayman we have five women on a team while in the States there is seven women on the team and they can use screens. Also our rush starts 10 yards back (of the line of scrimmage); in the States the rush starts a yard off the line. It’s just a much faster game.
“Hopefully we in the association see the (women’s flag football) product get better. The next (version of the) tournament is next year and it’s back in Kissimmee. At that time we’ll have a chance to show what we’ve learned.”