They loved getting their kicks

Numerous athletes in the Cayman Islands take part in the country’s national sport. To no surprise many of them took part in a recent large-scale youth football competition.

Last week dozens of players suited up for 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.

Among the multi-sport stars in attendance was Lloyd Barker. The West Bay native has a place in at least three sports; namely athletics, basketball and football. A noted sprinter, Barker was part of last year’s CARIFTA GAMES team for Cayman. His basketball commitment was evident in his participation in the recent Appleby Under 19 Basketball League. However Barker, 18, states the tournament was a chance to showcase his football abilities.

“It was good and I saw great sportsmanship out there,” Barker said. “Results-wise we drew our first game and that was good preparation for the other games. There were a lot of really skilled kids there and as a whole Cayman has great football players. It was good that the schools could show what they had.

“I’m a defender and midfielder in football though to be honest I don’t always do football. But with a tournament like this I can come out and show what I can do.”

The Wesleyan student is originally from Jamaica. However his family moved here when he was seven years-old and he has been living in Cayman ever since. Barker admits his family has played a big role in what sporting activities he is involved in.

“My dad (Lloyd Barker Senior) is a pro footballer in Jamaica and Canada. So I guess football is in the family and in the blood. However basketball and track and field are my other sports. Out of all of them track is what I enjoy the most. My heart is there and it helps me with the others because of the speed, training and vigour I need to do that.

“For example in football I need my quickness to get to the ball. On the whole track inspires me to do the other sports and gives me a foundation to work with.”

In fact the Cayman sports fraternity was well represented at the tournament. Long distance runner Tristan von Kirchenheim steadied the Cayman International defence, swimmer Geoffrey Butler was part of the Cayman Prep side and footballer Cline Glidden Jr. was attacking out of the midfield for Grace Christian Academy.

Another athlete who took part was Aaron Kennedy. The St. Ignatius student was a stalwart in goal, largely due to his 6’1, 200-pound frame. Kennedy, who just turned 17 last month, states he was content with the tournament.

“I’m a goalkeeper/defender for my school, though I’m a natural keeper due to my size and footwork,” Kennedy said. “It was a great tournament. I liked the fact that it was competitive even though it was (intended to be) just for fun. It’s good to have inter-school competitions like that.”

Kennedy, who is an only child and the son of Maria Kennedy, has a presence in four sports. In the last 12 months he has gone from a member of the Under-16 national rugby team and a participant in the youth flag football league to an Under-19 basketball champion. The England native states his football skills are decent compared to his other sports.

“Basketball is pretty fun for me and I practice a lot more with it. It’s a career for me to reach for as I have plans to go to college and hopefully the National Basketball Association.

“With football I’d say I’m as good as I am in basketball though I focus on rugby and flag football as well. But football is something I’ve played from time I was in primary school back in England, where I’m from.

“I would like to see more private school competitions with different sports like basketball. I hear that basketball is Cayman International’s strongest sport so I would like to see a basketball tournament next. That would be a fun competition for me.”