Bodden Town’s kids paving the way

Bodden Town Football Club is one of the most successful teams in the Cayman Islands despite their average age being only 20, one of the youngest here.

Yet their average age in 2002 was the veteran figure of 36, which is a testament to how well the club’s youth policy has worked in a mere decade. The side is having another exceptional season.

Considering six of their current squad are away on scholarship, or in the case of Luigi Hernandez and Theron Wood, playing semi-pro in England their achievements should be double lauded.

Credit must go to the visionary people behind their speedy advancement, namely Mark Scotland, club president, Kennedy Kelly, vice-president, Elbert McLean, technical director and super coach, Al Frederick, assistant coach, Alfredo Montoya, equipment manager, Lanisia McLaughlin, the club physio, Elvis Bush, youth coach and statistician and Clara Watler, the tireless club secretary.

Senior players, various other coaches, family and friends and many Bodden Town residents have also chipped in along the way to make it a true community success.

The players and officials were at the Cayman Islands Football Association headquarters in Prospect on Monday for a reception to congratulate Bodden Town for their recent success in the recent Caribbean Football Union Cup games against River Plate of Puerto Rico.

Hernandez and Wood were over intending to play but could not because their registration is now held with Ashford Town in West London where they have been since November and will play until the end of the season.

Despite playing against full-time pros of River Plate, BT impressed two weeks ago in losing 2-0 at the TE McField Annex in the first game and winning 1-0 in the second leg two days later. No BT player was over 25 and the majority were teenagers. Had they been at full strength, the feeling is they would be planning their progress in the region wide competition now.

Having said that, River Plate were depleted too with a third of their squad not making the trip from Argentina because of visa problems.

Their second leg victory was the first time a Cayman team has recorded a Caribbean Football Union Cup victory. It was scored by captain Yefrey Calderon who in the first game was stretchered off and taken to hospital with a badly gashed head. He is typical of the team’s bulldog spirit that he insisted on playing in the second game. All this has certainly inspired Premier sides here who now want to enter the competition.Scholars International, last season’s Premier League champs, declined to enter the Caribbean Union Cup, so Bodden Town stepped up as second place finishers.

The reception was hosted by Jeffrey Webb, president of the football association, who congratulated everyone connected with Bodden Town’s success, with praise also from national technical director Carl Brown who reserved special mention for family members who have contributed so much to see the likes of Calderon, Gerome Graham, Charlo McLean, Denny Bailey, Rashad Rankine, Maynor Rodriguez, Arvid Harris, Kareem James and Ramon Sealy doing so well. Brown also did his bit by providing tips to the side for the River Plate matches.

Like Sealy, Tevon Levien and Craig Bodden came back from college in the US against River Plate. On top of all this, the club’s youth sides are enjoying considerable success again this season. Coach Elbert joked that he deserves a massive pay rise.

Scotland is, of course, the minister of sport, so his passion for seeing Bodden Town excel is unquestionable. He said: “We entered the Caribbean Union Cup after a gap of about 12 years since a Cayman side entered because clubs thought that they would get a good hiding like they used to.

“But we entered with an open mind and proved that there is not such a big gap after all. Our success has inspired other Cayman teams like Elite and George Town who have expressed interest in entering in the future.” Scotland is also proud of the fact that more clubs are adopting a progressive youth policy, using Bodden Town as a model. All in all, it helps with football’s advancement here.