Officiating continues to be a thorn in the side of Cayman Islands flag football.
Cayman’s national teams bemoaned the referees at the annual invitational tournament staged by the Bahamas Flag Football League in Nassau, Bahamas this month.
Cayman Islands Flag Football Association President Jermaine Sharpe states the officiating factored into a runner-up finish for the men’s squad.
“It was a combination of bad calls and the team not gelling as much as we’d like before we went,” Sharpe said. “The first two games, which we lost, was a gelling process. The time to prepare was short, we had to find a replacement coach at the last minute in ‘Edge’ (Adrean Russell).”
The men’s side went 3-3 in group play before losing in the finals to the Freeport Alliance, who are male champions for the second straight year. The women’s squad would repeat as tournament winners by going 6-0 and defeating the New Providence-based G-Fit Pink Foxes, the 2012 Bahamian league champs, in the title game.
Among the stars for the ladies was Carrie Barnett, who played for 2012 women’s champions the Burger King Wolverines. Barnett states the refs hampered matches for both sexes.
“There were foolish calls left, right and centre,” Barnett said. “The refs there are worse than here. Based on what the refs said to us, the tournament wasn’t designed for Cayman to win.
“They changed the rules on us in the finals but it didn’t make a difference, our defence had it on lock. Last year we won, everyone prepared for us and the Pink Foxes were put together specifically to beat us. They didn’t score on us.
“Our men should have won the final as they had like 10 touchdowns taken from them. For the guys, I don’t know what to say. They won the final even though they lost. Renford Barnes had a big TD catch overruled. The refs were a disaster.”
Cayman replicated last year’s form where two female teams made the finals (the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association won) while the men’s side lost in the title game. Interestingly, the Grand Cayman association did not field a squad this year but all of the ladies play for clubs in the Dart Women’s League.
From the Bahamian side of things, the tournament was a success. Tournament and league director Jayson Clarke focused on the results rather than the officiating.
“Overall, the tournament was excellent,” Clarke said. “In my view, this is the best we have had in three years. The first year it was so new we were giving persons time to catch on. The second time we hosted it, which was 2011, it was pretty good. But this time around, it was excellent. A higher calibre of players and games.
“The level of play was very good and the turnout, in terms of fan support, was great. The games were pretty well-organized and games were ran on time. To me, this is the best we have ever had.”
A total of 13 teams took part with eight men’s sides and five women’s squads. Matches took place at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. Cayman were represented by 20 male players in Damian Barboram, Renford Barnes, Phil Brown, Jonathan Carter, Jacob ‘Frecko’ Ebanks, Steve Ebanks, Andrew Frederick, Taj Haye, Chester Hurlston, Perry Levy, Brendon Malice, Jeremy Miller, Nathan Narcisse, Josh Parsons, Adrean Russell, Jermaine Sharpe, David Taylor, Rhod Taylor, Andrew Wisdom and Rupert Whittaker.
Cayman suited up 14 ladies in Carrie Barnett, Cassandra Bodden, Erica Bosch, Tanjana Campbell, Adrianna Christian, Jennifer Cotarelo, Maggie Ebanks, Antoinette Lewis, Alexandria Saintvil, Camille Solomon, Treveen Stewart, Jahzenia Thomas, Benieca Thompson and Dionne Whittaker.
Sharpe states many of those players had a good showing.
“We had six tryouts, 18 women were selected for the final but 14 travelled. Alexandria was the Most Valuable Player for the tournament and Dionne, our quarterback, looked good at the helm. Adrianna, Jahzenia, Erica and Carrie did well as cornerbacks. The girls did well as a whole.
“David was our kicker and he put up some good points for us. Our defensive line, with Damian, Rhod, Chester and Jonathan, and our linebackers Brendon and Phil did well. The rookie cornerbacks in Nathan and Josh, with Perry and Renford at the back as safeties, did well. “The defence did well and that carried us. We had a rough time at the offensive end. Frecko did well at quarterback but execution had to be more down-pat.”
Eight of the guys are members of the dms West Bay Hellcats, who have won four straight national championships. Seven men played for the Burger King Panthers, two starred for the Cox Colts and the rest represented the Club House Bulldogs, Maples Packers and the Cayman Power Sports and Marine Hurricanes.
Five ladies (Campbell, Christian, Ebanks, Stewart, Whittaker) played for the Zulu Warriors. Bodden represented the Androgroup Killa-Panthers, Bosch played for the Lone-Star Jager Monsters, Cotarelo represented the HOT 104.1FM Cheetahs, Solomon excelled for the Maples Bliss and five women (Barnett, Lewis, Saintvil, Thomas, Thompson) starred for the Wolverines.
Barnett spoke about her performance.
“I got a couple of interceptions, I made a big play in the final with a trick play. Alexandria also got interceptions. With Adrean as our coach, no one scored on us.”