Maples kick in to develop stars

Budding Lionel Messis and Robin van Persies will get the opportunity to hone their skills from the earliest age in the Cayman Islands thanks to a newly launched grassroots programme sponsored by law firm Maples and Calder. 

Maples have generously committed for $100,000 per annum over four years, which really emphasises how keen they are to see the programme flourish.  

The announcement was made at the Maples and Calder offices in Ugland House last week. Jeffrey Webb, the CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president attended with Maples managing partner of the Cayman Islands, Paul Lumsden.  

Also there was Bruce Blake, first vice-president of the Cayman Islands Football Association and Marcos Tinoco, CIFA coordinator and grassroots instructor.  

Youngsters as young as four will now be coached to such a high level that aspirations of becoming a world class pro is genuine ambition providing they have the talent and dedication to achieve it.  

The Cayman Islands Football Association Grassroots Programme is based on the FIFA Grassroots Programme, helping kids aged 4-12 to realise their potential no matter where they are geographically.  

The priority is to develop their initial love for the game and for it not be lost in the formative years by too much structure and over coaching.  

FIFA President Joseph Blatter was here four years ago to open the Cayman Islands Football Association Centre of Excellence.  

Blatter said: “The systematic promotion of grassroots football has always been one of FIFA‘s priorities. 

“Interacting, sharing, playing and meeting others are all benefits that we promote at the grassroots level.” 

“For some, grassroots football is a recreational activity. For others, it is the practice of football in a club or school environment, with regular training and matches, that is important.” 

Webb said: “I want to thank Maples for joining the football fraternity. This is a milestone for Cayman football. To have such a distinguished company as Maples to lend its support and name to CIFA and football for us is historical.  

“This is the single biggest sponsorship of football in the history of CIFA. We think it is going in the right direction, youth development.  

“The impetus from this programme is not just for Cayman but throughout the CONCACAF region. We hope that this partnership will continue and Mr Lumsden will continue to enjoy this community.  

“For us football is a great way of ensuring that young people have an outlet to develop and harness their talent and also to learn life skills. We thank him for creating this opportunity for young kids to enjoy that.” 

Lumsden said: “On behalf of Maples and Calder we are very excited at being given this opportunity to partner CIFA with respect to the grassroots programme.  

“We had been looking for quite some time for an opportunity to get involved in football here and we think that the grassroots programme provides us with the perfect vehicle to do so.  

“It also falls nicely within the focus of the sponsorship that we try to do here. We try to focus on the youth, education and sports and think that this programme for this.  

“We look forward to assisting in the development of talent here and also helping promoting healthy lifestyles for our youth.” 

Youngsters will be developed for CIFA youth competitions to raise their levels of skills, discipline and understanding of the game without emphasis on winning.  

Primary school football here, primarily sponsored by CUC, is of a high quality, but the season is relatively short and the keenest players do not have a great outlet to help their progress. The grassroots programme will help fill that void.  

Players will thoroughly learn the laws so when they get to competition age level their coaches will not need to spend too much time teaching the rules and can concentrate more on tactics and technical details. 

Although relatively informal and fun for the kids, their progress is nevertheless going to be monitored.  

Players will be evaluated early on, their records, stats and football data will be kept for future reference and strategies for improvements will be drawn based on their performances. 

The outcome is that as a long-term programme, over the next 10-15 years the Cayman Islands will produce players of international quality.  

There will be three different age levels and players only can participate in other different age level than their own if there are not enough participants. 

Players cannot change or attend different groups otherwise authorised by the respective age level’s coach. 

The categories are Under-6, U-8 and U-12.  

This is all extremely innovative, especially the fact that medals and trophies will not be given at awards ceremonies. Players will receive diploma of participation with grades based on their attendance. All Cayman Islands districts, including Cayman Brac, will be covered. 

Maples have generously committed for $100,000 per annum over four years, which really emphasises how keen they are to see the programme flourish.  


  1. I find this article quite interesting considering the fact that for almost two years now, a very successful program has been running. Mr. Neil Murray, an employee of CUC, who is known in the community for his involvement in football as a player and coach at times along with Arden cheeky Rivers another individual known for his involvement in football, identified a gap in football. As a brainchild of theirs, they approached other coaches and started an Under 13 and Under 11 select squad in late 2011. Players were identified from the Primary School Football League (PFL) which has been sponsored solely by CUC for the past 8 years. Some of the members of the selected squad have been called to participate in an oversea tournament, for which they are seeking sponsorship.

    They currently have over 40 boys between the ages of 10 13 in the program who attend consistently. They are a very talented and dedicated group and are destine to go far both locally and overseas. What is great about this program, is that the coaches are not just interested in improving their football skills but are also interested in ensuring that the young footballers are achieving good grades and behavior in school. For those who are weak in their academics, they have made arrangements for them to get tutoring. Their attitude on and off the field is also of upmost importance which is also monitored. One would agree that these young men are being developed in a wholistic manner. As a parent of two children in the program, I am very impressed with the efforts of the coaches to develop future members of the Cayman Islands Senior Men’s National football team. This program is helping to rebuild football in Cayman, without the assistance of our national body CIFA. Not one CIFA official showed up to assist with the program and not one penny was invested.

    Kudos to these coaches and I trust that the community, the private sector and the Government will see the need to support this program.

    Now that CIFA has gotten this sponsorship I wonder if they will now consider supporting this program by providing some monetary assistance. The players are scheduled to travel to Las Vegas for a large tournament. This trip is just a part of the reward for their hard work and dedication. The players have given up every Saturday mornings even during summer vacation in addition to Friday evenings for over 12 months.

    Additionally there was a grassroot program in the past with less than 20 participants in George Town, as there was a nominal fee of 150. I ask the following questions:
    1. Will CIFA support the program already in place in addition to establising a new program?
    2. If and when the grassroot program is started will it be free to all who attend?

    It would be great to get a response from CIFA.

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