Cayman Classic tackles new style

Flag football is showing ladies are far from the weaker sex. 

The Cayman Islands Flag Football Association unveiled an eight-man style of play for women, complete with downfield blocking, during its recent one-day tournament at the T.E. McField Sports Centre in George Town. 

Dubbed the “Cayman Classic,” the decision to switch from the traditional seven-a-side look to the eight-man style was the brainchild of Maggie Ebanks and the association’s national women’s team. The squad tried out that format during a recent international tournament in Florida without success. 

Last Saturday’s competition saw a host of familiar names in the sport, including Dionne Whittaker, Jessica Pawlik and Cassandra Bodden along with multi-sport stars such as Carrie Barnett, Jahzenia Thomas and Sheyla Torres. 

Dozens of enthusiasts turned up to see the ladies getting physical. Among them was Joshua Pawlik, who served as the special teams coach for the national women’s squad. Pawlik said it is no surprise they wanted to adopt a tougher version of the sport. 

“The girls who went away loved it,” Pawlik said. “They got a feel for an eight-man, full contact format. It’s nothing new in places like Washington, DC, which I feel is the best in the nation as they have a year-round league with 16 teams.” 

For the record, the national women’s team competed in the 42nd annual US Flag and Touch League National Flag Football Championships in Kissimmee, Florida earlier this year. Along with the national men’s team, the ladies went winless, losing their first two games and failing to advance past the initial stages. 

Pawlik said the untold story behind that was that Cayman was more competitive than the results indicate. 

“The girls performed well, they had their moments,” he said. “For example, Alicia Dixon made a beautiful catch and Jessica Pawlik connected with Scimone Campbell on a long touchdown play. 

“Losing the first two games didn’t put us in the playoffs but in that second game, we were there to the end. We lost to the Lady Dominators, the best team in their league out of Washington, DC. The first team we lost to was Canada and they had won the championships two years in a row in recent years. They only beat us 12-0. It was close and we had a chance to score at the end.” 

The Cayman Classic also catered to the guys, via a nine-man segment organised in large part by flag football stalwart Brendon Malice. Many star veterans participated such as Simon Rivers, Brad Conolly and Richard Campbell. 

The tournament comes as the association continues to stage its 2013 coed league. Matches began last month, with week three taking place on Friday, 8 March, at Ed Bush Stadium in West Bay. At 6.30pm, reigning A division champions Child Please! faces Wolverines, while KPMG battle Cayman Auto Diagnostic. 

At 7.15pm, Go Flag Yourself! challenge National Building Society, while Burger King squares off with Mourant Ozannes. At 8pm, Duke’s tackle Queensgate, while reigning B division winners Cobras hunt down Weststar.  

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