Carli Lloyd captivated millions of Americans with her Olympic triumphs. Recently, she had a chance to motivate hundreds of Caymanians.
Lloyd, 30, is in the Cayman Islands this week for the Arie Smith Football Camp, organised by the Dream Out Loud Foundation. The midfield stalwart for the US national women’s team states she is impressed with the passion of local players.
“It’s phenomenal, it’s a way different game here than back home,” Lloyd said. “Every other country lives and breathes the game of football. Back home, there are so many sports to choose from.
“It’s a treat to see this. A lot of kids here have a lot of talent. What Arie’s doing is awesome. These kids have to believe dreams are possible. They have to continue to work hard in this.”
The New Jersey native is a two-time Olympic gold medallist who scored the gold medal-winning goals in the finals of both the 2008 and the 2012 Summer Olympics. The former Rutgers University star also played for various clubs in the Women’s Professional Soccer League, with her last squad being the Atlanta Beat in 2010.
Lloyd drew a huge crowd at the Ed Bush stadium in West Bay on Monday and Tuesday, targeting boys and girls aged 7-18. The camp was the last stop for Lloyd ahead of the Christmas holidays. Prior to her Cayman visit, the US squad wrapped up a slate of 10 exhibition games, dubbed the ‘Fan Tribute Tour.’
Alongside fellow stars Hope Solo and Abby Wambach, Lloyd figures to play more international friendlies in the coming months, with the ultimate goal being the 2015 women’s World Cup. Lloyd states her Cayman sojourn will be memorable as it is her first time here.
“We had the 10-game tour in 10 different US cities. I flew here from Boca Raton in Florida. I live in New Jersey and fly back there, back to the cold, for the holidays this weekend.
“This is my first time here and it’s beautiful. I loved it, we were at the beach, went to the Turtle Farm. To be here with the kids is a privilege, it’s the best of both worlds. It’s a little vacation, you see some of the country.”
The Ed Bush camp gets its name from foundation founder Ariella ‘Arie’ Smith, 22, a West Bayer who is the daughter of Antonio and Glennis Smith. The forward/midfielder played for the Scholars International women’s team and dad Antonio founded Scholars in 1978. Arie now competes in Atlanta, Georgia for her Kennesaw State University Owls while pursing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Arie, who started her foundation to promote young Caymanians in football, states there will be similar efforts in the future.
“This was a good way to give back to my passion,” Arie said. “It was all about the kids. What better way to give back? This definitely will not be the last one. You can be on the look out for something else.”