Two months have gone and Bodden Town Football Club are still coming to grips with their loss.
In June, the team and the Cayman Islands community were devastated with the tragic passing of Gerome Graham, 20. The former national Under-23 team member died inexplicably during an informal practice.
Bodden Town head coach Elbert McLean states the loss remains painful and his side will do its best to move forward.
“It hurt a lot, eventually we will learn to heal with time,” McLean said. “We’re going to put a patch on our jerseys this season to remember him.”
Graham, nicknamed ‘Bird,’ collapsed on the Haig Bodden Football Field, next to the Bodden Town Police Station. Health Services Authority Acting Chief Medical Officer Delroy Jefferson previously said doctors will not know precisely what happened until the post-mortem results were received. Dr. Jefferson also noted that, in general, such incidents in young athletes were often brought on by ‘cardiac dysrhythmia” or an irregular heart beat.
Many team members remain heart-broken over Graham’s death. Among them is Thomas ‘Dragsta’ Bush, 25. The North Side native, a midfielder embarking on his second season with Bodden Town’s Cayman Islands Football Association Premier League squad, states he is hurt the most because the young men were very close.
“I’ve been playing football since I was five or six,” Bush said. “I grew up in George Town, I’ve lived in North Side the last three or four years and I’ve wanted to play with Elbert since I was a boy. I finally got the opportunity last year.
“Gerome and I were really close. We played midfield together, we would go out to play together, we went out together. It still hurts me, I can’t believe he’s gone.
“Now I train for me and him. He was my bregin. This year we’re coming for everything. The side is stronger and I would say to look out for Bodden Town this year.”
The Haig Bodden field played host this month to the annual summer football camps put on by the Bodden Town club. The camp attracted some 135 kids aged 4-17. McLean states the abundance of talent in the Under-10 category has prompted him the start of a new junior programme.
“Coming up, we want to kick off a grassroots programme for kids aged 4-8 on Saturday mornings; when school starts. I was pleased with the young ones this summer, the grassroots we like to call them. There’s a kid, for example, that’s four doing the camp a second year. Then there are others like my grandson Breshawn Watson, 8, who has done the camp the last six years.
“We thank all of the sponsors as the kids had a good time. The grassroots programme will be a step further as it will be tactical and deal with basics like passing and finishing.”
For the likes of Bush, the camp was a chance to connect with a community still coping with tragedy.
“It’s very important for the community and to keep the youth off the streets. This was my first camp and it was big for me. I worked with the youth and showed them something positive to try and put them in a positive direction.”