The debate over what direction Cayman Islands football’s national team programme should go in is still raging and Radio Cayman’s sports reporter Nikolai Hill has added his views to the mix.
Cayman lost all four Group A CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers with a generally young and inexperienced team under coach Carl Brown. Hill believes Brown should not be too proud to recall veterans who are still good enough to win matches at international level and give some other youngsters a chance. Hill plays for Scholars International and not so long ago was a national team striker himself, albeit a non-scoring one.
Cayman has lost some established players recently because of eligibility issues. They include keeper Jermaine ‘Whacky Dip’ Brown, Leighton ‘Rumpy’ Elliott, Rene Carter and Oneil Taylor.
“We didn’t have our best players against El Salvador last week (Cayman lost 4-0) and you have to look at the reasons the coaches and the Cayman Islands Football Association are not attracting the best,” Hill said. “One reason is budget. We didn’t play any friendlies in the build up to the last two matches and also players deserve to get at least a stipend to help with their training expenses.
“Coach Brown complained that players didn’t come training until the last few days, but they deserve an incentive. I know we’re amateur, but everywhere in the world players get at least a stipend for playing for their national side. Respect must be given to the players for putting the hard work in after maybe a hard day at work.
“I would like to see players like Carson Fagan, Tom Elliot, Phillip Berry, Justin Pierre and Eric Brown recalled. They know how to win. Youngsters like Abijah Rivers, Davey McLaughlin and Dan Kelly deserve a chance too.”
General feeling in the Cayman football fraternity is that Brown got rid of the senior players too quickly and bought in youth, and now complains that they don’t show. These are the players he chose and now it’s too late to bring some of the seniors back because his exit strategy for them was non-existent.
People have complained that outstanding players like Pierre and Rivers are not showing and should be forced to play but ignore the fact that it’s not because they don’t want to, or that they don’t have any national pride, it’s because they feel they’ve been badly treated in the past.
One former player said: “Brown’s philosophy of building from the youth makes sense, but his reasons for it and the way he’s going about it is wrong. I personally believe he’s entrusting the youth mainly because they won’t resist him in any way.”