Academy Sports Club is totally focused on realising its ambition of producing a player good enough to play in the English Premier League.
The latest step is that seven youth players went out with Virgil Seymour, director of football at the club, to England on Saturday for trials with Watford Town and Ipswich Town. It may be freezing out there in the worst winter and early spring weather for 50 years, but the players have blazing ambitions to keep them fired up.
On the two-week trip with Seymour are Academy’s Julian Moxam, Johan Ebanks, Zachary Scott, Elijah Seymour, Vincent Lachance and Corey Millaneo, plus Leighton Thomas from Future Sports Club.
“This trip has been in the making for the last six months,” Seymour said. “We’ve been putting in extra training. They are prepared and it is now entirely up to them to take it to the next level.
“Hopefully, with these tryouts something good will happen and they get a chance to join their academies, whether they get to join this September or next September.
“We’ll just keep trying. We have all the talent here, it’s just a matter of getting them exposed and getting the recognition of Cayman Islands producing not just good players, but well rounded ones who are well educated as well.”
The legendary former Chelsea and Italy midfielder Gianfranco Zola is manager at Watford.
Zola has been here twice in recent years, loved it and forged links with Academy and its main sponsor, Dale Creighton, who is the major sponsor of this trip.
Academy has about 12 clubs in Europe it is in touch with on a regular basis.
“I want to work with not just Academy players, but ones from any club,” Seymour said.
“We’ll support and help finance anybody. We’ve got quite a few kids from other clubs who want to start up when we get back. So with the coaches and parents’ permission they can come and train.
“Along with Creighton Properties, we are also grateful to other sponsors McAlpine, Island Taste, Fabrizone Cleaning Systems, Optical Outlook, Bruce Blake and several private individuals.”
Seymour recently formed Excel Sports Management, which runs separately from Academy and helps the most talented get opportunities abroad. ESM is a football development business that has grown out of the success Seymour has had as a volunteer coach with Academy.
ESM gives an opportunity to players from all clubs in Grand Cayman and is focused on development and providing overseas opportunities.
Seymour is grateful to Luelan Bodden for the artwork he always does when the club travels abroad.
This time Bodden made a sculpture of Zola playing here out of a conch shell, which will be given to him.
“Every piece we take, the recipients always marvel and Luelan’s work,” Seymour said. “Our local artwork is nothing you can buy off a shelf. We’re grateful to Leulan for sponsoring us unconditionally, as always and to all our other sponsors.”
Bodden said: “It was challenging to make that sculpture, but it came out wonderful and I’m really happy with it.
“I’m excited to know that my art is going so far over the water, especially to England.
“This is my third piece in England. Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge received my first one for their wedding and Swindon Town Football Club the second.”
Dale Creighton said: “We have a good connection with Zola and a couple of other clubs overseas thanks to the hard work that Virgil has put in on behalf of Academy and I think it’s an excellent opportunity for these kids.
“I’m pretty sure they’ll pick at least two of the kids. There’s a lot of talent in Cayman and hopefully, in the next year we’ll see that talent playing overseas.
“We already have some kids playing there now but our goal is to get someone from Cayman playing in the Premier League and I think that’s going to happen one day.”