The Primary Football League Youth Football Programme’s Under-13 team competed in the Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup International Showcase two weeks ago with mixed results.
The tournament in Nevada ran between 16 and 19 February.
Although returning from the tournament with a less than glamorous record – one win and three losses – the invaluable experience gained will contribute greatly to the players’ development as they begin to fulfil the short and long-term goals organisers and coaches have set.
With an average age of just 12, the team participated in the Under-14 division, playing teams from Utah, Nevada and Canada. Although the players were disappointed with the results, they played admirably and gained the respect of their opponents.
The Mayor’s Cup International Showcase is one of two annual football tournaments co-hosted by the Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club and the City of Las Vegas. The other is the International Tournament, which is played in October.
Each year, the tournament welcomes international teams from Canada, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Poland, France, Australia, Dominican Republic, Denmark and Africa.
Travelling with the Cayman Islands contingent were coaches Ernie “Gillie” Seymour, Antwan “Chico” Seymour and Gonzalo McLaughlin along with team manager Norman Joseph and a number of parents.
Playing in unfamiliar and cool conditions, top scorer was Cayman Athletic forward D’Andre Rowe. Teammates Kameron Mendez, Albertini Holness, Joshua O’Garro, Xavier Comment, Ricardo Wright, Kailan Miller, Kareem Foster, Rico Bodden, Jondane Dawkins and Nicholas Chung made notable contributions.
The PFL Youth Football Programme U-13s have been together since March 2011, training once a week and playing in many friendly games and competitions with local teams.
This tournament marked the first time some of these players have travelled overseas to compete. As a team, it was the first time they have travelled and competed together, and only the second time they have faced overseas opposition.
PFL Youth Football Programme coach Gillie said: “The Mayor’s Cup was a great opportunity for our youngsters to experience what it’s like playing in unfamiliar weather conditions, a long way from home with very few local supporters in the stands.
“Many of these youngsters want to follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Martinez and Kray Foster who now ply their trade with Swindon Town’s Youth Academy in the United Kingdom.
“To achieve this they need to be able to play in adverse weather conditions against bigger, stronger opposition, which is exactly what they experienced in Las Vegas. It was great learning experience.”
Coordinator of the PFL Youth Football Programme Neil Murray said: “The players, parents and coaches did a wonderful job in raising funds for this trip and we thank everyone who supported the fundraising raffle, car washes and fish fries.
“The PFL Youth Football Programme thanks all the companies who gave generously in supporting this trip and the programme.
“It was a great experience for our youngsters and we hope to attend other overseas tournaments in the coming years as we continue to build on this programme.”