Youth Cup has mass appeal

Aspiring footballers in the Cayman Islands will have a feast of their favourite sport during the summer holidays with the introduction of an exciting new tournament.

The Cayman Islands Football Association has organised the 2012 Cayman Airways Youth Football Cup from 23-30 June. Teams from the United States and Canada will play against the best teams from the Cayman Islands and neighbouring Caribbean countries.

The details of the tournament were revealed at the Cayman Airways offices on Friday.

The week-long tournament takes centre stage at eight fields across Grand Cayman, including grass and astro turf. Two of the facilities, the TE Mcfield Annex in George Town and the Ed Bush Stadium in the West are FIFA two star rated football turf facilities. Local officials endorsed the tournament that will feature over 1,000 players from 50 teams.

“The Cayman Airways Cup will serve as a platform for the Cayman Islands to promote its sports tourism product,” said CIFA General Secretary Bruce Blake. “This tournament is as an avenue for our players and coaches to be exposed to international competition and more importantly, as a stage for our players to be seen by high school and university coaches.”

All profits from the Cayman Airways Cup go to the grassroots junior football programme with distribution organised by the Ministry of Sport and the Cayman Islands Football Association.

According to Sports Minister Mark Scotland: “Youth development is at the core of nation building. The benefits of this competition hits some of our major target areas; tourism, nation building and youth development. All of which are critical to the improvement to our standard of living.

“For many years football has been Cayman’s leading spectator sport and this high calibre competition will surely bring the crowds out and our best players back to the football pitch.”

National carrier Cayman Airways stepped up to be the tournament’s presenting sponsor and will play an integral role in the competition’s success. International teams are eligible for free flights on Cayman Airways, providing each member is accompanied by a paying chaperone. The event is for boys and girls in the Under-10, U-11, U-12, U-13, U-14 and U-20 age groups.

Cayman Airways President and Chief Executive Officer Fabian Whorms, beamed with pride as he explained his company’s role in the tournament. “With our rich history of supporting community events in the Cayman Islands, particularly events which benefit the youth of our islands and attracts visitors to our shores, being the founding sponsor of this tournament is a perfect example of the airline’s continued commitment to both objectives, particularly since more than $30,000 worth of football equipment will be donated to the Cayman Junior Programme.”

The push begins in earnest to gather local companies willing to sponsor the event. The man behind the successful execution of the competition is Tournament Director Dan Kneipp of Starfish Sports.

Kneipp has ensured that Cayman is a world class squash destination through the largely successful Cayman Open and he also pulled off the Legends tennis tour last November. That tournament featured A list stars like Martina Hingis and Mark Philippoussis.

Kneipp and his team have now switched their attention to youth football. He said: “We think this tournament will quickly become the biggest sporting event in the Cayman Islands, and one of the most exciting events in the Caribbean.

“CIFA is coordinating Cayman’s teams to participate in this event and XL Tours –an internationally renowned, soccer tour company – are ensuring we have a great turnout from US teams. We’ll be reaching out to the Cayman business community and hoping we get a lot of support for this exciting tournament.

“This event has been in the pipeline for a long time and there are a lot of people like Gary Bromfield from Cayman Airways and coach Winstone Cheung who have done the ground work that has led to today’s exciting announcement. We would like to give special thanks to our event partners Cayman Airways, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Sport and XL 
Soccer Tours.”

Kneipp also revealed details of a beach football tournament that will accompany the Cayman Cup. One of the most beautiful beaches in the world will play host to one of the world’s most spectacular sporting venues. A temporary beach soccer stadium will be erected on Seven Mile Beach with seating for over 1,000 spectators. Senior teams from the Cayman Islands will compete against visiting US college teams.

Tickets to the Cayman Beach Soccer event will be free with all event profits going to CIFA’s grassroots junior soccer programme.

For sponsorship information contact Dan Kneipp at: [email protected]