Dwayne ‘Gaza’ Wright likes to prove a point on the football field. In his first season playing in the Cayman Islands having arrived from Jamaica three years ago, he helped struggling Roma United stay up with crucial goals.
Then he moved to Elite and top scored, steering them to Premier League glory. Team-mate Alex Belcher ran Wright close in the scoring charts then and just to show that it was no fluke, Gaza started the just-concluded season on fire. He scored 11 times in the first few matches, including three hat-tricks.
He looked set to blaze to another big tally but a knee injury hampered progress. Nevertheless, Gaza topped the charts again with 23, including 20 in the league, way ahead of Bodden Town’s Yefry Calderon who finished on 12 and Miguel Simms of Tigers and Belcher who both scored 10.
Wright smacked in 19 goals the previous season, all but one in the league. His tally this season was limited through missing two games through injury. Elite were leading the Prem for most of the season but wobbled towards the end as Scholars International maintained the pressure.
It came down to the season’s last game when, similar to the Manchester United-City drama, Elite, who had a marginally better goal difference, had to do better than Scholars to clinch the championship. But Elite only managed a 2-2 draw against George Town and Scholars saw off already relegated Future 3-0. At least Elite had the consolation of winning the Digicel Cup against Bodden Town.
Wright and Belcher scored for Elite in that final game, but goals by GT’s Raheem Robinson and Fabian Malcolm meant Elite failed at the death.
“It was very disappointing to see my team lose the league on the last day after leading for the majority of the season but congrats to Scholars who kept on fighting until the last day and that helped to give the fans a mouth-watering season,” says Wright.
“I’m sure my tally would have been higher without the injury because it disabled me to run full speed and get past defenders as I would normally do.”
Fully fit and with a slightly stronger squad, Wright, 23, has high ambitions for the West Bay side next term. “Next season I hope Elite will achieve the triple crown for the first time in Premier League history.”
Elite are a relatively young side, brought along steadily through the youth programme by coach Greg Ebanks and club president Martha Godet. Wright immediately felt welcomed when he joined them.
“I would like to give props to all my Elite team mates but most of all a special shout out to Jedd Ebanks. He has been magnificent in midfield for us this season. And coaching wise I have to say Greg and Martha have been very special to the team and me personally. If you ask why Elite should have won, I would say because of the effort and sacrifices put in by coach Greggy and Martha.
“I would also like to give a shout out to my good friend Tex Whitelocke. He was my inspiration to be the top striker in Cayman after he won it in the 2009-10 season. I took it from him and to retain it this season again is a wonderful achievement for me but he hasn’t had a good run for the past two seasons.
“I just want to say to him that he should keep his head up and remain focused and I would like to inspire – or should I say – challenge him to try to come back for the title that was once his!”
Roma dropped down a league three weeks ago. Wright was sorry to see their demise. “It was really sad to see Roma relegated but ultimately they had it all in their hands but because of lack of discipline the team ended up going down which is part of life. They just need to learn from their mistakes and try to get back up in the top flight again.”
Wright’s ambitions have not diminished. “I want to remain the top scorer as long as I’m playing here and to inspire other youngsters to be proud to play in Cayman and I would love to see Cayman Islands football one day become pro or a semi-professional league.
“I would still love to become a pro footballer, in fact, that’s what motivates me to stay top scorer because in this sport a goal scorer is what any coach would want in their team.
“If I get the chance to choose where to go I would try America as I admire the Major League Soccer set up a lot and I think I would do well there. How I would get there, I guess I need to just keep scoring and hope to attract the eyes of a MLS scout or a college coach.
“I know with my determination and hard work I would put in I would get drafted within a few college years, if not the first.”
So focused is Wright that preparation for next season is already under way. “I’ve already started my plan for the off-season as I’m working on improving my strength and speed and currently in the gym four times a week.”
Gaza works in sales at Celebrations and if he stays as focused looks set more personal celebrations.