A whole raft of aspiring footballers were inspired this week by two football camps, appropriately hosted by the Dream Out Loud Foundation.
Organised by West Bay footballer Arie Smith, the camps on Monday and Tuesday at the Ed Bush stadium featured the world renowned player Carli Lloyd.
The Arie Smith Soccer Camps were free for boys and girls aged 7-18 and thanks to generous sponsorship, they were fed and given T-shirts too.
Lloyd, 30, is one of the stars of the US women’s national team who has played for various clubs in the Women’s Professional Soccer League.
She has scored 41 times in over 140 games for the US national team, which features stars like Abby Wambach and Hope Solo.
She is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, scoring the winning goals in the recent 2012 Olympics against Japan in the finals and scoring the extra time game winner against Brazil in the 2008 Olympics. She also won silver at the previous women’s World Cup in 2011.
Smith founded Dream Out Loud which is a non-profit organisation providing opportunities for young girls through football in the Cayman Islands while empowering and educating them on leadership on and off the field.
Smith, 22, is now a senior student at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia and her commitment to this foundation led her to ask Lloyd to make an appearance here.
Smith said: “This is a good way to give back to my community and my country. I love football, been playing all my life.
Her father Antonio Smith founded Scholars International 30 years ago and Arie wants to emulate that legacy. “It would be nice for Dream Out Loud to excel and go on for a long time,” she said.
“I want to thank all my sponsors, Department of Tourism, Cayman Airways, US Airways, Marriott Hotel, At Water Consultants, Cayman First Insurance, Tony’s Toys, Cline Glidden Jr, Sea First Sports, Turtle Farm, KaIBO Beach Bar and Grill, La Dolce Vita Restaurant, Liberty’s Restaurant, Papagallo’s Restaurant, Morgan’s Harbour Restaurant, Calypso Grill, Star92.7FM, Signed Solutions, Mike’s Ice, H2O, Grand Caymanian Resort, Lloyd Berry, Ralston and Sheena Anglin, Subway, Burger King, Monster Energy, Radio Cayman and Scholars International.”
It did not take Smith a lot of convincing to get Lloyd down here. “She got back to me within two days of first pitching the idea to her. She checked her schedule and once she realised she had the time off she said yes.”
The fact that Lloyd is based in Philadelphia which is pretty cold at present, probably had something to do with her coming here. She was well received by the hundreds of kids who participated.
Smith was extremely pleased with the way it all went. Football is such a passion in her life, she hopes to do it for a living when studies are completed.
“My football is going great,” Smith said. “I’m a senior now so my NCAA eligibility is up. I’m looking to play professionally, probably in the US.”
She had an offer to play in the Women’s Professional Soccer League but decided to return home for the summer break instead.
Arie is tiny yet playing professionally against Amazonians does not daunt her. “Speed and skill, that outweighs any height difference. I believe I have the dream and I can make it.”
Smith is also excited about a new league to be formed in the US in March, the National Women’s Soccer League.
She is studying criminal justice at university and if a football career does not map out she may pursue working in the financial law sector.
Right now though, she is still daring to dream out loud.