Youth football in the Cayman Islands is packed with talent. That was evident last week when Academy Sports Club’s Under-13s beat Scholars International in the Silver League FA Cup final 4-2.
Scholars cruised to the league title so it was especially pleasing for Academy to upset the favourites at the TE McField Annex.
Scholars won eight and drew the other of their nine matches and Academy lost only two of their games. Sunset were third and Tigers fourth.
There was plenty of skill and guile on display for such young players who next season will all be playing in the Gold League in the U-13s.
The two-tier split is to allow the younger, less able U-13s to develop for a season before going into the Gold League.
The Scholars International U-13 coach is Michael Mendez who said: “We won all our nine league games.
“Today the guys got a little bit too confident. By winning so many games easily I think they approached this game as if it would be a walkover.
“You know that the underdog team is always going to be more prepared. Academy came out and did what they were supposed to do.
“We were 3-0 down earlier on and they still had the ability to come back and score two brilliant goals which I’m very pleased with.
“This was the second year running we were finalists in the FA Cup so I think the guys have done really good.”
Mendez thinks Jose La Rosa is the most improved Scholars player for the season. La Rosa works really well with the coaches son Kameron Mendez. who was the league’s top scorer with 24.
Academy’s Zachary Ebanks was second top scorer with 20 and team-mate Dominic Owen notched 13.
Michael hopes Kameron can make the grade at the highest level. “He definitely has the ability to make it at the professional level,” Michael said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him make it.
“He has the strong passion for football. He started a seven and been shining in the school leagues and now at club level. That shows he has the potential and we need to stand behind him and see how far he can get.
“The whole side has been playing together for some time now from their days with West Bay Primary School and if they stick together they will be hell to be reckoned with in the future.”
Paul Byles, Academy U-13s Silver team coach, said: “It’s nice winning something. We won the FA Cup last year so it’s great to do it again and especially nice to do it against Scholars because they’re the ones who beat us to the top spot in the league.
“Scholars came very strong this year so all credit to them. They played well. We figured out a few things which we tried today and all credit to the kids, they did it and it worked. “It’s a group where most of them have improved a lot over the season under our captain Dominic Owen. They have all done very well, shown discipline. They came out today to have fun and in the team talk we discussed putting in 100 per cent.
“We didn’t talk about team tactics, just working hard. Really that was what we had to do, just dig a bit deeper.
“Next season we’re looking forward to it. We’re going to be in the gold league next year and I think they will be very strong.”
The Academy kids are on a short break and will soon resume training for the Disney International Youth Cup in Orlando in July. They are taking five teams this time, including U-10s for the first time.