Private schools really had a ball

Private secondary schools in the Cayman Islands recently came together for a football tournament. Based on the feedback of the organizers, there looks to be more sporting events for those entities in the future.

Last Thursday saw the Private Schools Association of the Cayman Islands seven-a-side football tournament. The Cayman International School field hosted the competition which saw eight schools take part in first-place Cayman Academy, second-place Cayman Prep and third-place St. Ignatius along with Cayman International, Grace Christian Academy, Hope Academy, Triple C and Wesleyan Academy.

Jeremy Moore is the Principal of Cayman International’s secondary school and serves as the main organiser and founder of the event. Moore, 35, hails from Orlando, Florida and has been in Cayman a few months. He states that the tournament is a great introduction to the idea of an inter-island sports competition among all schools.

“I feel the tournament went extremely considering it was the first one of its kind,” Moore said. “There’s certainly room for improvement, but from the reactions and responses from fans, parents and kids, everything was well received. Each team had its own character and was impressive in different ways. It was great to see, for example, that the kids from Hope Academy were able field a good-looking team. They epitomized the spirit of the tournament – a small private school coming to compete against their peers on island in friendly competition.

“I still believe there is a place for interscholastic sports in Cayman. It may not be the central focus of youth sports, but it certainly has the potential to engage new participants and build school spirit. I would like to sincerely thank all the CIS school staff and parent volunteers who put forth their time, talents and efforts in making this idea a reality. I am also very appreciative of the fact that sponsors, media outlets and many others were welcoming and responsive through the process of organizing this tournament. It’s clear that Cayman values its children.”

All of the tournament participants received a medal and T-shirt compliments of sponsors Burger King, Osetra Bay, Mourant Ozannes and Popeyes. Trophies and plaques were given to each of the top three teams.

Cayman Prep Business Studies teacher Des Matthews served as a coach and a tournament organizer. Though his school would lose in the championship game he states he is pleased with the event on a whole.

“I’m delighted that we were able to finish in second place overall,” Matthews said. “Although disappointed to lose the final 2-0 to Cayman Academy (who were deserving champions) the mixed age Cayman Prep squad were a pleasure to coach, having only been playing together for three months.

“The final was perhaps a game too far for us. We perhaps peaked in the semi-final 3-0 win over neighbours and rivals, St Ignatius School. The commitment and attitude of Cayman Prep players was exceptional but with a few too many injuries going into the final, it was one game too many at the end of a long day. In total, the boys played almost three hours of football and were an absolute credit to themselves, their families and to Cayman Prep and High School.

“I feel the tournament went very smoothly and was superbly organised. It was a successful day and very rewarding for the wide range of ages of students that took part. There was a great sense of community spirit and fair play promoted during the tournament.”

Matthews, 30, hails from Wigan, England. The Prospect resident has been on-island full-time since last August with a year’s stint here in the past. Like Moore he feels there is a future for interscholastic competitions that include all schools.

“The tournament was held now because February was a good time of year in terms of weather. We hope that next year we can expand the tournament to include government schools and thus make it an island-wide tournament. The private schools association’s role (in that) is important because of the differences between the private schools and its organisation is integral to improving relations. Hopefully it will encourage the sharing of best teaching practices and developing inter-schools competitions. At Prep for instance I will turn some of my focus to creating a basketball tournament similar to the football one.”

An interesting aspect of last Thursday’s football spectacle was the support of the Cayman Islands Football Association. Cayman’s governing football body made certified referees available for matches, which were played under seven-a-side FIFA rules. Among the referees involved was Alfredo Whittaker. A tournament organizer, he states the event did well to showcase Cayman’s football talent.

“I was very happy with it as it is a big incentive for the schools,” Whittaker said. “We’re looking to have more than one tournament like this a year. The organization was good and the teams were good. I’m not surprised with the level of talent as we have a good crop of youngsters coming up. As this tournament shows that talent is not just in the public schools but in the private schools too.”

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Moore was the main organizer.